None of us can save ourselves. None of us are righteous by ourselves. We need the grace of God. Thankfully, we have a wonderful, loving God who is very gracious. But He doesn’t give His grace to everyone. To some He is a God of vengeance and destruction. To others He freely gives his mercy and grace. Consider James 4:6 “But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’”
The proud individual trusts in his own wisdom, in his own power and strength, and in his own righteousness. The humble individual acknowledges his inability and his inadequacy, and admits his failings; he submits to God and trusts in Him for strength and salvation. Consider the parable given by Jesus in Luke 18:9-14 “Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: ‘Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men — extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.’” The Pharisee was proud but the tax collector was humble. God gave His grace to the tax collector and not to the Pharisee. The humble tax collector was justified before God and the proud Pharisee was not justified before God.
Throughout time, God has given his grace to the humble but resisted the proud. Here are a couple of examples from the Bible of God giving His grace to the humble. The first is shortly after King Solomon built the temple to God. 2 Chronicles 7:12-14 “Then the Lord appeared to Solomon by night, and said to him: ‘I have heard your prayer, and have chosen this place for Myself as a house of sacrifice. When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.’” If we humble ourselves, seek His face, and turn from our wicked ways, God will forgive our sin and bless us. Another example is the city of Nineveh. You remember that Jonah was sent to the evil city of Nineveh to proclaim its destruction. Jonah 3:5-10 “So the people of Nineveh believed God, proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least of them. Then word came to the king of Nineveh; and he arose from his throne and laid aside his robe, covered himself with sackcloth and sat in ashes. And he caused it to be proclaimed and published throughout Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything; do not let them eat, or drink water. But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily to God; yes, let every one turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. Who can tell if God will turn and relent, and turn away from His fierce anger, so that we may not perish? Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it.” The whole city of Nineveh humbled themselves by laying aside their clothes, putting on sackcloth, sitting in ashes, fasting and turning away from their evil ways. As a result, God gave them His grace and did not destroy them.
Your humility should not just be before God to receive his mercy, but you should be humble in other areas of your life. Romans 12:16 “Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.” One way you should be humble is to associate with other humble people. You should also determine not to be wise in your own opinion; appreciate that others may be wiser and have more knowledge that you. Philippians 2:3-4 “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” You demonstrate humility when you look out for the interests of others and esteeming others better or more important than yourself.
Jesus is our greatest example of choosing humility. Philippians 2:5-9 “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” Christ Jesus was in the form of God and yet he humbled Himself, lived as a man and became obedient, even to the death on the cross.
In God’s kingdom here on earth, the greatest is the one who humbles himself and serves rather than the one who exalts himself. Matthew 23:11-12 “But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” My encouragement to you is to choose to be humble. 1 Peter 5:6 “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.”