I love movies – especially redemptive movies with plenty of action and a storyline that captivates the imagination. There are some basic themes that go into these types of epic tales. One of those themes – the “bad guy” must be sufficiently arrogant.
Yet, in the culture at large, it seems that pride and arrogance are necessary components to success. Politicians are almost required to boast of their accomplishments. Television personalities invariably seek the spotlight for their own egos. All the while, those people who express humility (i.e. Tim Tebow) are ridiculed and incessantly mocked. But that’s the way the world will treat a humble heart.
Consider what it says in 1 John 2:16, “For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world.”
Or, again, in James 4:13-16, “Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’ As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil.”
Remember, the system of this world is under the prideful and arrogant dominion of the enemy of God – so you can expect that his influence has great power over the ways of humanity. But the ways of God are diametrically opposed to the world. Through the redemption of Jesus Christ you are taken out of the dominion of darkness and put into the kingdom of Light – the kingdom of Christ. With God, there is power in humility.
Consider this promise: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time” (1 Peter 5:6).
This is the challenge! In order to experience the mighty hand of God lifting you up, you must humble yourself. But what does that mean? Is humility the condition of life that allows no room for confidence? To be humble must you be weak? I don’t think so. Jesus is the veritable image of true humility and yet He possessed confidence and strength. The difference – His confidence was in the will of His Father, and His strength was set to give His life for others. Paul reiterates this in Philippians 2:8, “And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!”
The reality of our human nature is that we tend toward trusting in our own strength. Thus, we end up glorifying ourselves, boasting of our own accomplishments just like world. But God wants us to humble ourselves and rely on His strength and grace to be the sufficiency for life.
So, where does this humility come from?
Simply put, it comes when you know yourself as powerless without God.
The Apostle Paul recognized this. 2 Corinthians 12:9, “But he [Christ] said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” The only way the power of Christ will rest on you is when you humbly receive His grace.
In a parable, Jesus spoke about this. Luke 18:9-14, “To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable…” In this parable, you will see two different men approach God. Take a moment and read the parable… go ahead… I’ll wait…
Jesus concludes the parable with this statement: “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Okay… so what? Why is it important that I live humbly before God? I mean, I have a good life, a good income, happy moments – what power am I missing that requires humility? Much. I won’t go into all of them, but let me give you three:
- First, you will find that God is open to your prayers. James 4:3 says, “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” Prideful, selfish prayers go unheeded (read Luke 18:9-14 again).
- Second, you have a greater wisdom from God. Proverbs 11:2 states, “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” You will not seek the wisdom of God if you arrogantly think that you have any wisdom of your own.
- Third, you have the opportunity to experience God’s abundant life. Again in Proverbs 22:4 it says, “Humility and the fear of the LORD bring wealth and honor and life.” The abundance of the world is a shallow and insipid substitute for the life God has promised.
The psalmist said in Psalm 84:10, “Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.” I would rather have a humble place of service for the King of kings rather than the highest place of exaltation in the world. For even Jesus asked in Mark 8:36, “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?” Human pride will seek to gain the whole world – God offers better for the humble heart.
There is power in humility – the power of God to lift you up. There are other experiences that come through humility, such as a greater influence in the world or more opportunities for serving the Lord Jesus. But one thing is certain, there is no power of God in pride for “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5).
Michael Duncan is a multi-published author, including From Vision to Victory and Shadow Remnant. He is co-host on the Alive in Christ radio network and serves as a pastor in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest. He is a keynote speaker and conference presenter and can be contacted at: http://www.authormichaelduncan.com and you can follow him on Facebook at facebook.com/michaelduncanbooks.