Have you ever had a humbling experience? I have had many. It seems that just when I think I have things lined out pretty well, one of those “you’re-not-so-cool-as-you-think” experiences comes along. I remember the first semester I started teaching at Angelina College. I posted on the bulletin board the detailed instructions for the first clinical day, orientation day. I followed the other instructors’ guidelines to prepare the students for that assignment. The next day I saw the Dean of Instruction walking down the hall and, as we spoke, she politely informed me that I had misspelled the word “wear” in my instructions as to the appropriate uniform or clothing to wear. I was sick and very embarrassed. Later I was able to laugh about it, but for sure not right then. I quickly corrected my mistake.
Pride is a difficult concept. We all see value in taking charge of our responsibilities, looking good, and taking a healthy pride in ourselves. Such pride motivates us to work hard, study, be diligent, and generally do all the right things to be successful in life. As I look at God’s Word, though, I see God point out the dangers of pride. Seen through Scripture’s lens, an unhealthy pride in self not only hinders our relationship with God, it hinders relationships with others. Consider the instruction given to young men (and all the rest of us) by Peter:
Young men, in the same way, submit yourselves to your elders. And all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves therefore under God’s mighty hand, so that in due time He may exalt you. Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.… (1Peter 5:5-7).
What does it mean to humble oneself under God’s mighty hand? First, I believe it means to trust Him, the all-powerful and almighty God. When we recognize that we are all sinners and have all fallen short of God’s glory, the next step is to humbly go to God and confess that we can’t save ourselves. You and I can work as hard as we can to be good enough to go to heaven, but we just can’t do it. We need God’s forgiving grace through Jesus Christ our Savior. We must humble ourselves before God and accept the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. As we then surrender to His lordship, we come into a relationship in which we exchange the control of our lives to God’s control, another place of letting go of self-pride.
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23).
I remember a picture that hung in my husband’s bedroom as a child. It vividly illustrated this concept. It was an Indian riding bareback at a full-out gallop with his arms straight up in the air. This is the way I want to follow the Lord. I want to let go of the reins, trusting Him to guide and lead me, and fly with the wind knowing He is in control. I want to be humble, recognizing my inabilities and God’s desire to love me and guide me. My Bible memory verse this month is Galatians 2:20.
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.
The “I” in this verse is the prideful person, who is the old self, who now has relinquished control to Christ Jesus, allowing Him to live His life in and through him or her by means of the Holy Spirit. You and I live this life by faith, trusting in God, enjoying His presence and fully trusting His Son who loved us and died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for our Savior who died and rose again victorious.
Matthew and Luke recorded Jesus’ words on this subject, For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted (Matthew 23:12). For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted (Luke 14:11).James further explains, Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you (James 4:10). This same verse in the Amplified version says, Humble yourselves [with an attitude of repentance and insignificance] in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you [He will lift you up, He will give you purpose] (James 4:10).
Dear Heavenly Father, I confess I struggle with pride every day. I need Your help through the Holy Spirit to humble myself and relinquish control. I am so thankful for Your love, mercy, and grace. As a believer, I know that nothing can separate me from Your love, and I praise You for guiding me and giving me purpose as I live for You.
I pray this in Jesus’ Holy Name, Amen.