II. Humble yourself before the Lord so that you will be exalted (v. 10)
a. Humble yourself in the presence of the Lord…
The final command in vv. 7-10, Humble yourself in the presence of the Lord completes James’ train of thought by returning to the theme of the first command. These two commands, “submit to God,” and “humble yourself before the Lord,” sum up this entire section of verses. Submission and humility are the two commands that go hand in hand, and are the key to patterning your lives in such a way as to receive God’s grace. In this final command James also returns to the quotation of Proverbs 3:34 found in v.6. The idea is that if God gives grace to the humble, then humbling ourselves before the Lord the only way to receive God’s grace. In fact, Humility is the beginning point and participation of salvation as far as the human perspective is concerned.
Since humility is so necessary in order to receive God’s grace, it would be helpful if we defined humility. Humility is seeing things as they truly are. It is a self-evaluation judged by the highest of standards, God himself. Calvin wrote, “It is evident that man never attains to a true self-knowledge until he has previously contemplated the face of 3od, and come down after such contemplation to look at himself.” In a real sense, our level of humility is proportional to our knowledge of God. This means that we must recognize our own spiritual inability, acknowledge our need for God’s grace, and finally submit to His lordship in our lives. If we are truly humble, seeing things as they really are, then we will submit to God’s wisdom rather than our own.
Ultimately we will find our greatest strength in our humility; because in our humility God provides us with grace. The alternative to repentant humility is pride. This was exactly what James’ readers had fallen into. Think back with me again. They had conflict with one another (v. l), and that conflict came from their lust for worldly pleasure. They had jealousy in their hearts, because they were proud and thought that they deserved something better than what they already had. In their prayer their own desires were more important than the will of God, and they had no clue what Scripture taught about any of this. They desired to be the friends of the world, rather than God because of pride. And in v. 6 we see that ultimately people like this will be humbled by God’s opposition.
b. He will exalt you.
The contrast between the humble and the proud is evident. It is seen clearly all throughout Scripture. In Luke 15:11-32 we find a perfect example of the difference between the proud and the humble in the parable of the prodigal son The prodigal son returned with humble repentance, but the son who never left was filled with prideful jealousy. The results the attitudes of these two sons make clear to us what is at stake. The humble son, who returned, was accepted and exalted by the father. The prideful son, who was jealous of his brother, represented the Pharisees to who Jesus was talking. The same group of people who heaped eternal judgment on their head by having Christ crucified.The results of humility are clearly seen in v. 10 as well. James says that if we “Humble ourselves in the presence of the Lord,” then “He will exalt [us].” Through humility we will receive grace, and through grace we will receive exaltation. If we try to exalt ourselves it will only result in God’s opposition. But, if we humble ourselves before the Lord then Ephesians 1:3-7 becomes real to us:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace
In vv. 7-10 we saw 10 commands all with the goal of helping us to be devoted to God rather than friendship with the world. As I look back on this study I wonder what difference it is going to make in this group. Will we continue to pursue the lust of the world, or will we devote ourselves to God. Of course, the answer to that lies in whether or not we will humble ourselves and submit to God. Will we allow our pride to prevent us from receiving God’s grace? The question is one that only you can answer.