But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. (James 4:6 KJV)
What does James mean by the proud in James 4:6? Sadly, it is easy to read this verse and import our ideas about pride from everyday usage, which will undoubtedly blur the intended meaning.
Let’s begin with what pride does not mean in this verse: exaggerated self-esteem against other people. For example, people can be proud because of their wealth and elevate themselves over others. This form of pride is horizontal, human-human. But the pride in James 4:6 is not human-human pride. It is more dangerous; it is the pride of a human being towards God, vertical human-divine pride.
James continues the theme four verses later in verse 10 and says, “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord.” Furthermore, remember that James was not writing to unbelievers but to believers. He addressed an often deadly but hidden sin in the hearts of God’s children: spiritual pride toward God. This religious pride manifests in at least three principal ways: not acknowledging our need for God, depending on our abilities rather than God’s, and counting on our works rather than God’s grace.
For instance, spiritual pride is at the root of rebellion, as humility is at the core of a contrite heart. King David committed adultery but, in humility, cried out to God for forgiveness. In stark contrast to David, King Uzzah sinned but, in pride, became angry with the priests who rebuked his sin (2 Chronicles 26:16-19)—God immediately struck him with leprosy.
Beware of this subtle but deadly sin that so quickly destroys us.
Please take a moment to ponder and mutter on James 4:6 above. As you do, allow the Spirit to search your own heart for hidden pockets of pride.
Apply the Word
Pride kills—spiritual lives, ministries, relationships with God, etc. It is a hidden and silent killer. Do not let it have a place in your heart.
Ask the Spirit to help you remain humble before God always.
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