Last night we looked at James 4:6-10, verses that remind us of the grace available to us from God and how this is effective in those who are humble. Those who are proud find themselves on the wrong side of God, for “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6, quoting Proverbs 3:34)

The proud (the word combines two ideas, that of a torch or flame and the idea of this being waved high to attract attention to it) are secure in their own righteousness (see Luke 18:9-14). That, however, is mere bluff, for their own righteousness will never be enough to save them. The humble are those who are lowly, like the tax collector who is unable even to look up to heaven. The Pharisee in this parable does not ask God for anything (he sees no need!), but the tax collector knows his need for mercy. We too are aware that we need mercy and grace.

Pride may be called the original sin, the one that saw Lucifer expelled from Eden (see Ezekiel 28 & Isaiah 14). When we are proud, we think we have no need of God; we seek to put ourselves in His place. We become number one. That is anathema to God, for He is the only One who should have that place. We can be proud in our actions, but also proud inwardly (see Luke 1:51). All pride is abhorrent to God and He actively opposes it.

James reminds us that the key to success in this topsy-turvy kingdom where the exalted will be brought low and the lowly exalted is surrender. We are to submit ourselves to God (James 4:7). That involves laying down all our rights, waving the white flag of surrender, acknowledging that God is God and we are not! Only then do we have the resources to resist the devil. We have to have a proper attitude towards our sin, not glossing over it or pretending that it doesn’t matter (James 4:8). God is the One who has promised to lift us up (James 4:10). Again, it all comes down to grace, which is undeserved favour. When we choose His ways over our ways, we are humbling ourselves and He will then lift us up.

These are simple truths to say and write. They are, however, issues that God will bring us back to time and time again, for our hearts are desperately deceitful and pride comes in many shapes and forms. Let’s not be afraid of surrender, for when we lose our lives, it’s then that we find them.