10 Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.
As we have looked intently at the past 3 verses and now end the little passage defined as “the cure” for worldliness, James gives us this simple note to ponder. Humility, as is described many times over throughout scripture, is to set aside our worldly desires and give God the glory. It is putting aside our desires for God’s. It is doing things to worship and serve Him, not ourselves.
The basic principles James has laid out for us to cleanse ourselves of this world are:
Submit to God
Resist the Devil
Draw near to God by resisting doublemindedness
Take comfort in your mourning the loss of worldly desires
Humble yourselves by giving God more importance than yourself
The first 4 are steps towards the final outcome: humility before God. In doing these, we are repenting. To repent means to turn away from one thing and towards another. In the biblical sense it is turning away from sin and towards God. We must keep in mind, however, that this is not merely a once and done thing, rather a constant effort.
This is why being a Christian (a true follower of Christ) is one of the most challenging things a person can do. It is also why it is the most rewarding. Denying ourselves and our natural sinful nature on a moment by moment basis is tiresome. It’s actually quite intimidating, like standing at the base of Mt. Everest and looking up, trying to see the peak which is far from view, almost hopeless. Let us not stop reading the verse, however.
He will exalt you. You see, our own humility can only go so far. If we could “do it right,” then we could exalt ourselves, couldn’t we? Part of our humility is recognizing we cannot do it on our own. In relying on God, recognizing we are powerless against our own sin and evil desires, He lifts us up and empowers us to overcome these things. However, once we lose sight of Him and begin to rely more on ourselves, we fail again. A reference that has been in the forefront of my mind recently is the story of Jesus walking on water and Him calling Peter out of the boat to walk on water with Him.
As Peter focused intently on Jesus, he was able to walk on the water. However, the moment he looked away and at the water, he began to sink. At that moment, he panicked and all he could do was look at the water that was consuming him. Even though he heard Jesus’ voice, he kept focused on the water, the problem that was consuming him, rather than just focusing on Christ. I do the same thing. Christ begins to bring me through a problem in my life and eventually I stop looking at Him and focus on the world around me and I begin to drown. I know He was bringing me through it, I know I need to refocus on Him in order to save myself, but all I can see is the consuming world around me. Let us not lose hope, however, because the story ends in Jesus grabbing hold of Peter’s hand and saving him from drowning. This happens after Peter realized that he could not save himself, that he needed Jesus to save him. We see this transpire in Mathew 14, “30 But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31 Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” We must recognize our frailty and call out to God for His strength and saving grace to make it through. THIS is humility and THIS is how it works.
The previous principles to this verse are similar. We can only do so much on our own. We can only turn away from sin, resist the devil, submit to God, avoid doublemindedness, rid ourselves of worldly desires, and humble ourselves so much until we just cannot do any more.
How humble are you today?