Humble Before God

James 4:8-10 

8Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.


Have you ever wished secretly that you were much presentable than your actual physical features? Someone had assumed that the business world favors more attractive appearance than ordinary looks. She personally believed that her job applications had been denied because of her facial appearance and not because of her credentials.

So, she spent much money for several surgeries on her facial appearance and skin color; and she testified that she had been given much attention far better than before she had multiple surgeries that changed her outward looks and skin tone or color.

Individuals who yearned to have presentable appearance and fairer in skin had undergone necessary surgical treatment. It’s not exaggeration. It’s a reality! What do you think? Can genuine believers sense obsession to favorably attractive appearance?

King David testified of his personal experience in Psalm 84:11, 11The Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.

Would you like favor from God instead? We’ve got to be blameless.

You may ask: “But we are not blameless, right?” King David wrote that blameless life is basic requirement that gains favor and honor from God. Surely he had his share of guilt, yet David said that the Lord favors, honors and gives good things to the blameless. So, did David become blameless in his lifestyle ever? Again, he declared in Psalm 32:1:  1Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.

David committed adulterous and murderous sins. Prophet Nathan confronted him. David confessed and sought forgiveness from God, and the Lord had forgiven him.

When we confess our sins, God forgives us; and we become blameless in his eyes. Here’s a personal reflection: If Jesus Christ returns today, do you sincerely believe that you will be included when the Lord resurrects all believers and takes us into heaven?

Nothing impure can enter heaven. Since we believe that we will enter heaven, we must be blameless, perfect, holy and pure before the Lord, right?

The Almighty God our heavenly Father is perfect. Only perfect and blameless believers can enter heaven.

Friends: When you personally put your faith in Jesus Christ, did you believe that your impure, sinful and imperfect old self was crucified with him? By faith, we believed that the blood of Jesus Christ shed on the cross had washed away our sins and purified us from all unrighteousness; consequently, we have become perfect in the eyes of God.

Your sinful self may try to confuse you that you are not perfect yet before God. Pray for stronger faith. Genuine believers aim for perfection before God. Well, we still commit sin from time to time.  We are admonished in 1 John 1:8-10, 8If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.                                                              

When we confess our sin, the Lord forgives us. When God forgives us, he also blots out from his records and forgets the sins he had forgiven. He counts as blameless all believers he forgives; blameless, pure and perfect, as if we did not commit sin before. God forgets all sins that he had forgiven. If doubt lingers in your mind, always come to God and confess your sin.

1.  Come

8Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 

Come near to God, wash your hands, and purify your hearts,” these commands are godly and can never be accomplished by human efforts. We can only follow godly commands by faith in Christ. How? Practically, how do we practice faith in Christ and come near to God? We admit our limitations; we ask his Holy Spirit to help us obey him.

Remember to always seek help from the Lord, and you follow godly instructions. Seeking empowerment from Christ practically exhibits humility before him. Christ as Lord over our life is an open secret for all believers who come near to God; and he will come near to us also. When the Lord comes near to us, it means, he favors us, right?

Zacchaeus the Tax Collector

In the eyes of mankind, the prominent is favorably noticeable and easily standout among others. Most often, our society ignores the ordinary and unpopular individuals.

Zacchaeus the Tax Collectors was unpopular; he had much money, but he was very short. He wanted to see Jesus, but the crowd surrounded Jesus. So, he climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him; and, Jesus favored him over the crowd who followed him.

It says in Luke 19:5-9, 5When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” 6So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. 7All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”

8But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” 9Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 

When Jesus declared that Zacchaeus is a son of Abraham, he saw faith in him. All believers of Christ are considered children of Abraham, the father of faithful believers.

The Lord knows very well, if we have faith in him. Genuine believer would make much effort to come near to God. Zacchaeus believed, and Jesus knew it. The crowd had followed Jesus, but he favored Zacchaeus, why? When Zacchaeus offered to give half of his possession to the poor and pay four times the amount, if he cheated anybody, that’s a practical proof of his desire to follow the righteousness of God. What do you think?

When you come to God, do you sense a desire to live in godly righteousness? If so, God favors you with grace, honor and good things. What honor did Zacchaeus get? Obviously, the story of his changed life was included in the Bible for all readers to know. The unpopular Zacchaeus became very popular in many generations because he believed in Jesus Christ.

Your personal experience as Christian, do you think it’s worthy to be added in the Bible? Ever since you believe in Christ, what practical change happened in your life?

2.  Change

             9Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 

It’s godly command to grieve, mourn and wail for sinfulness. Our human sinful nature won’t grieve, mourn and wail for sinfulness. Why? Naturally, our sinful self enjoy sinfulness instinctively. See?

The Lord commands us not to worry but instinctively, we like to worry. Worry is sinful instinct. Even to accept such reality is God’s grace at work in us.

So, how could we grieve, mourn and wail for sinfulness. It’s a regenerating effort of the Holy Spirit, when we come near to God and seek his forgiveness by faith. Again, we cannot comply with godly requirements with sinful human effort and initiative.

But as believers of Christ, we always submit to him and ask his help; he gives us desire to repent so that we also grieve, mourn and wail as we seek his forgiveness.

Our Lord Jesus Christ teaches about God’s forgiveness in Luke 7:41-48, 41“Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?” 43Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.” “You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.

44Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” 48Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

The woman was considered sinful and everyone in the town knew her sinful lifestyle. She came to Jesus; she did not verbally asked for the forgiveness of her sins but her remorseful action practically proved her contrite and repentant heart. Christ forgave her. The Lord can easily see through the heart of repentant believers.

We should pray earnestly until we sense remorseful, contrite, regretful grief, mourning and wailing over sinfulness; and sincerely, we seek forgiveness from God.

By faith, we have confidence to approach God’s throne and choose to be humble.

3.  Choose

10Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.  

When we choose to be humble, it practically manifests the fruit of the Holy Spirit in us. Compliant and submission to the authority of Christ over us is the kind of humility that God approves: it’s humility in action.

Jesus Christ is the only Son of God; he exemplified humility in his obedience even to his death on the cross. Humility practically shows godly wisdom.

We need the help of Christ to be humble and comply with godly instruction.

Naturally, our tendency is to be arrogant, rebellious, and disobedient to God. Therefore, with natural human effort, we can never be humble enough to seek God. We must ask Christ for help, and that should be common sense to genuine believers only.

We are advised in Colossians 3:12, 12As God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

Praise God! He chose us to believe in him; his Holy Spirit dwells in us to make us holy. He enables us to love, have compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience.

All godly features in Christian lifestyle start with God. By the grace of God, we can be submissive and compliant to the Lord. Goodness and kindness acceptable to God is fruit of the Holy Spirit of Christ in us when we completely obey him by faith.

What is the difference between obedience to godly commands by human effort and living by the grace of God? Believers are expected to obey godly commands, right?

How do know if we are living by the grace of God while we obey his commands?

Attitude will testify when the grace of God is at work in us or we obey by human effort. With human effort, we want to get credit for our good work, we feel proud of what we did when human initiative had good work and take pride about it. We can also sense it as in “Huh! I did much better charity than others!”  And there’s desire for appreciation and want to hear, “Thank you! Great job!” If no appreciation is received, a proud self sulks and feels bad.

In comparison, when by his grace we do good works we sense humility, the fruit of his Holy Spirit in us; we sense that we cannot do anything without God’s help.

Are you satisfied with your spirituality? Do you sense like you need God’s mercy?

The Pharisee and the Tax Collector

Let’s learn from what Jesus Christ had told in the parable of the proud Pharisee and the humble tax collector in Luke 18:11-14: 11The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers —or even like this tax collector. 12I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ 13“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ 14“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

The Pharisees were known to be strict in fasting and giving the tithes of God. They regularly fast and pray especially in public. And in everything they receive [even herbs or spices], they faithfully give the tithes of God. The Lord Jesus has actually said that Christians should surpass the righteousness of the Pharisees to enter heaven.

What did he imply? How much human righteousness is required for anyone to enter the kingdom of heaven? The Lord Jesus had declared in Matthew 5:20: 20For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

Indirectly, the Lord implied that giving the tithes of God, prayer and fasting of the Pharisees were never enough qualification to enter the kingdom of heaven. Obeying his commands for the sake of compliance is never enough. Meaning: Righteousness that originates from human effort is never enough qualification to enter the kingdom of God.

In the parable of the Tax Collector and the Pharisee, the Pharisee credited himself for his regular fasting and faithful giving of the tithes of God. He was proud of his deeds.

In comparison, the Tax Collector did not mention about what he did. Instead, he sought forgiveness from God. Can you accept that it is possible that the Tax Collector had also fasted regularly? It is possible that he gave the tithes of God faithfully or maybe not. It was not mentioned but the Lord Jesus Christ declared that the Tax Collector was justified before God after he humbled himself and admitted his sinfulness before God.

But wait! Do we not hear preachers talk about their obedience to God? Should believers tell others, “I am praying for you?” How should we testify about the goodness of God without any shade of pride in the self and not trying to exalt ourselves?

Be very prayerful when you boast about the transformation that Christ has done in your life, and when you testify about the blessing that the Lord had showered in your life. Listeners cannot easily distinguish if you just exalted yourselves or you gave glory to the Lord. But, you can sense it if you exalted yourselves or you gave glory to the Lord.

Particularly, what can we sense in our inmost being when we exalt ourselves?

When we exalt ourselves about the good things that the Lord has done in our life, we may sense like, “Huh! I am much better than you!” When we compare our goodness with others, we act like the proud Pharisee who boasted about his accomplishment.

As personal reflection: If in our inmost being, we desire that Christ be glorified for all the great things he had done in us, we can have peace, even if others won’t agree.

It says in 1 Peter 5:5, 5All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”

Humility that God favors is practically displayed when we obey, comply and submit to him. Can you believe that the Lord exalts the humble beyond imagination?

Pray for increase of faith, godly wisdom and understanding to believe it!

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