In the Peanuts comic strip by Charles Schultz, Linus and Charlie Brown are talking about their plans for the future. Linus says, “When I get big I’m going to be a humble little country doctor. I’ll live in the city, see, and ev’ry morning I’ll get up, climb up into my sports car and zoom into the country! Then I’ll start healing people. I’ll heal ev’rybody for miles around! I’ll be a world-famous humble little country doctor!”
Apparently, Linus had a lot to learn about being humble. He, like many people, do not understand that the more fame and fortune one has, the more difficult it is to be humble. Instead, one is more apt to become proud and boastful. Jesus warned about this potential dilemma (Matthew 19:16-24).
Two references in the New Testament state that God gives grace or favor to the humble but rejects those who are full of pride (King James Version, KJV):
James 4:6 “But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, ‘God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.’”
James is quoting Proverbs 3:34 which according to the Greek Septuagint states, “The Lord resists the proud; but he gives grace to the humble.”
The Apostle Peter directly refers to this same verse: 1 Peter 5:5-7 “Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”
James and Peter base their instructions on the wise words of the Old Testament. For example, Proverbs 16:18-19 says, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling. It is better to be of humble spirit with the lowly than to divide the spoil with the proud,” (New American Standard Bible, NASB). (See also, Psalm 138:6; Proverbs 29:23; Isaiah 57:15.)
Their mentor and role model, of course, was Jesus Christ who declared, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls…” Matt. 11:29, NASB). (Cp., Philippians 2:1-11.) Since humility is a trait of our Lord, we can understand why he teaches us to be humble, too. He said, “Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted,” (Matt. 23:12, NASB). In the context of these words, Jesus was referring to the hypocrisy and pride of the scribes and Pharisees. He charged seven woes against these groups, therefore showing us the pitfalls of pride and the importance of being humble servants of the LORD (Matt. 23:1-36).
The fact that God “resists [opposes] the proud” reveals what God thinks about human pride. The word “resists” or “opposes” according to the Greek word, antitássomai, means, “to reject the entire make-up of something…a very old military term, was used for placing a soldier in a specific platoon (with a specific function) – i.e. in a definite order to attack or resist,” (biblehub.com; HELPS Word Studies).
What the meaning of the word indicates is that God treats the proud as enemies. The rendering of “proud” is, “an overweening estimate of one’s means or merits, despising others or even treating them with contempt, haughty,” (biblehub.com, Thayer’s Greek Lexicon ). And it presents the picture that wherever you find the proud and arrogant you find conflict and division (war) which, in turn, makes persons enemies of God and his standards. Indeed, this is what James is getting at in James 4:1-5,
What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: “He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us”?
To counteract the problem of pride, one needs to have an attitude of humility. This includes resisting evil by having a change of heart, a change of behavior, and a change of view that pleases God as James points out:
Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you. (See also, Micah 6:8; Eph. 4:27; 6:11f; 1 Pet 5:8f).
God gives grace to the humble with wonderful results. It is not only the cure for evil, but it provides a connection with God through prayer, puts us in a deep relationship with Jesus Christ, gives us stability and harmony in our interaction with others, and assures us with the hope of entering God’s kingdom when Jesus returns. These are the benefits of God’s grace or unmerited favor toward those who humble themselves before him through Christ.
While the proud are known to put down those who are humble by depicting them as weak and spineless, the Bible shows us that the humble are those who receive true strength, success, and happiness both now, in this life, and in the life to come. God’s Word says that he will exalt the humble in due time. “He will lift you up in honor,” (James 4:10, New Living Translation, NLT). (Cp. Matthew 5:3-12; 20:20-28). God has a plan for those who are humble and it includes the high honor of receiving eternal life, entering his Kingdom, and being co-rulers with Christ when he comes again (Dan. 12:3; Rev. 1:4-6; 3:21).
Here is Matthew West singing, “Broken Things,” https://youtu.be/YvRiUaB43vM
Good News to YOU!