The Lord Gives Grace To The Humble
By Rich Carmicheal
Scripture Reading: James 4:1-10
This passage of Scripture provides much hope for personal and corporate revival, no matter how dire one’s present situation may be. James begins this section of his letter by describing the rather pathetic condition of his readers. They are marked by quarrels and conflicts (v. 1), lusts and envy (v. 2), prayerlessness (v. 2), wrong motives and selfishness (v. 3), spiritual adultery and friendship with the world (v. 4), pride (v. 6), and uncleanness, impurity and double-mindedness (v. 8). Sadly, these characteristics are all too familiar in our day as well.
And yet, even with conditions this bad, James offers great hope for spiritual renewal. He provides a series of strong exhortations for his readers to put into practice, with the end result that God "will draw near to you" (v. 8) and that He will lift you up (v. 10). Of course, when God draws near and blesses us, His presence and power produce overflowing spiritual life in us and we begin to live and bear fruit for His glory. Our lives become filled with holiness, purity, joy, devotion, faithfulness, selflessness, love, compassion, and so forth.
What makes the hope of such dramatic transformation possible is the truth that God "gives a greater grace" (v. 6; see also Romans 5:20 in which Paul states that "where sin increased, grace abounded all the more"). In other words, God’s grace is plentiful enough, and powerful enough, to turn around the spiritual condition of even the most pathetic individual or church. And not only is God through His grace able to do this, He wants to do it!
There is, therefore, no question that revival is possible; God’s grace makes it possible. The question is whether or not we will humble ourselves before Him (v. 10). James reminds us that "God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble" (v. 6; cf. Prov. 3:34; 1 Pet. 5:5). What is needed today are individuals (and churches) who will humble themselves before the Lord.
Marks of Humility
James gives a picture of what such humility includes: "Submit therefore to God…Resist the devil…Draw near to God…Cleanse your hands…purify your hearts…Be miserable and mourn and weep…" (vv. 7-9). He writes earlier of humility as well: "Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the Word implanted, which is able to save your souls" (1:21). In other words, the humble repent fully of self and sin, and turn fully and wholeheartedly to the Lord and His Word.
Other passages in the Bible further define the marks of humility. Those who are humble have tender hearts toward the Lord; they believe what He says, even if words of judgment, and respond accordingly (2 Kgs. 22:19). They carry out His ordinances (Zeph. 2:3) and make amends for their iniquity (Lev. 26:41). They are not self-righteous, but fully recognize their sin and their need for God’s mercy (Luke 18:9-14). They do not think too highly of themselves, but honor the Lord as God and consider others as better than themselves (Phil. 2:3; 1 Pet. 5:5; Rom. 12:16).
God highly values humility and says that He looks to the one "who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My Word" (Isa. 66:2). He also promises that He will dwell "with the contrite and lowly of spirit in order to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite" (Isa. 57:15).
Intercession, Confession and Repentance
Hopefully, you are full of the Holy Spirit and not personally in the poor spiritual condition described by James. But even if you are in good spiritual health, there is still the need for you to take to heart this call to humble yourself before the Lord. Consider how righteous men such as Nehemiah, Ezra and Daniel humbled themselves before the Lord on behalf of God’s people, leading the way in repentance and in seeking the Lord (see Nehemiah 1:4ff.; Ezra 9:3ff.; and Daniel 9:3ff; 10:12). For example, hear Daniel’s intercession: "O my God, incline Thine ear, and hear; open Thine eyes, and behold our desolations...we do not present our supplications before Thee for our righteousnesses, but for Thy great mercies. O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for Thine own sake, O my God" (Dan. 9:18-19).
James reminds us that "the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much" (Jas. 5:6). The Lord searches for those who will "build up the wall and stand in the gap" (Ezek. 22:30).
Of course, if your spiritual life is lacking, or if you are struggling in sin, you have all the more reason to humble yourself before the Lord. Heed James’ call to submit yourself fully to the Lord and His Word. Resist the devil and his schemes against you. Draw near to the Lord through prayer, through Scripture and through repentance. Deal thoroughly with any sin in your life. Cleanse your hands and purify your heart. "Be miserable and mourn and weep" over your sin (Jas. 4:9). James uses such strong words because sin is such a significant matter with the power to separate us from the Lord (Isa. 59:2).
We need to do all we can to "cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God" (2 Cor. 7:1). Along with this, we must confess our sin to the Lord in order that He may forgive us and cleanse us through the blood of Christ from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:7, 9). The article by A.W. Tozer in this issue will help you examine your life and deal with your sin so that the Lord may bring spiritual renewal into your life.
The other articles will hopefully also encourage you to humble yourself before the Lord on your own behalf, on the church’s behalf, and even on your nation’s behalf. We are in such desperate need of an outpouring of the Holy Spirit to revive the church and lead to the salvation of many who are lost. May we look to the Lord for His grace, and humbly and passionately cry out to Him to pour out revival in our day for His glory.