Grace for the humble

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“God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5)

God is not obliged to give grace to anyone, but he loves to do it. He pours out his grace lavishly and abundantly on his children (Ephesians 1:7-8), but there is something about pride that pushes his grace away from us.

The reason why is because grace is really God coming alongside and helping us, and pride doesn’t want any help. Pride is basically independence from God. Humility opens itself to God’s help and grace, and like a flask held under a waterfall gets filled to overflowing.

God actively “resists” the proud – not only does he withhold grace from them, but he also opposes what they are doing. Why does God resist the proud? Because he loves them and he wants to have a relationship with them, and so he opposes a way of life that is based on independence from God so that they will come to their senses and come back to him.

The wonderful thing is that as well as God giving his grace to the humble, grace also produces humility – which then invites more of his grace into our lives, and the cycle continues. The law produces pride – you have a “righteousness of your own” that you can boast about (Philippians 3:9). But someone who has received God’s grace is more interested in boasting about what Jesus has done for them (Galatians 6:14; see 1 Corinthians 4:7).

God is incredibly generous and extravagent with his grace. He longs to be gracious to people (Isaiah 30:18). Everyone in the world is broken and needy; humble people admit that and depend on God, and he pours out his grace on them. Proud people don’t look to God, and “forfeit the grace that could be theirs” (Jonah 2:8).

For reflection:

Humility has a bit of a bad reputation. To some people it sounds like being a doormat. But humility is just honestly agreeing with the truth; not thinking of yourself more highly than you ought to, and not thinking of yourself more “lowly” than you ought to.

Jesus was the most humble person who ever lived, yet he still said things like “No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6) and accepted worship from people without embarassment (Matthew 28:17). He was always just himself.

Pride actually wears you out, because you have to spend energy on trying to prove things to yourself and others. Humility is much more restful, because you have nothing to prove – you are just yourself. Because he is the expert, Jesus is very willing to teach us humility and give us rest from our pride:

“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:29-30)

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