Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you. (1 Peter 5:5b-6)
I know what some of you are thinking: the title and this verse don’t match. Points to you for paying attention. Others I’m sure got only as far as the title before they stopped there, thinking, “Wait, that’s backwards, the bible tells us not to think too highly of ourselves.”
Yes, it does, but if you’re mentally correcting me, you’re likely not afflicted with arrogance in reality and likely in no need of a lesson on humility. Our focus today is the part about the humble being exalted by God at the proper time.
Thing is, too many of us haven’t been taught humility right. We’ve been told to get our faces down on the floor and keep them there by abusers who misuse the bible to keep us “in our place,” which is in their control and serving them rather than God. Abusers trained us to equate being humble with thinking lowly of ourselves. So the proper time comes, and God sends someone to come to us and lift us up as he promised, we rebel against His will and reject him.
Maybe we don’t out right rebuke the vessel of his grace, but we usually do politely ignore the person “tempting me to sinful pride” or we subtly reject God with an audaciously hypocritical, “thank the Lord.” We may claim we’re only instructing a misguided person to give credit where credit is due. In reality, we’re not the Lord and can’t know for sure that they haven’t offered him thanks, too. So we have no business saying something so rude and judgmental. That answer springs from spiritual arrogance, not humility.
The true humble answer to gratitude and/or praise is a sincere “You’re welcome” or “Thank you.” After the simple courtesy, if the person isn’t a believer, by all means, take the opportunity to tell them about the hope within you, if God leads.
On the flip side, while pride leads to a fall, thinking lowly of ourselves follows being already fallen and keeps us unable to get up because we think we can’t.
We tell ourselves we’re losers. We tell ourselves we can’t win. We can’t lose weight. We can’t stop getting drunk all of the time. We can’t resist the temptation to sin sexually. We can’t control our tempers. We can’t, we can’t, we can’t.
Brothers and sisters, whatever weakness we are struggling with today, telling ourselves we can’t overcome it, God is holding out his hand to us, and saying to stop thinking so lowly of ourselves. Confess your weakness to God, accept the affirmation and encouragement he offers, and let him exalt you from the low position of guilty sinner to the saint on high that you are in Christ by grace.
Lord, forgive us for thinking too lowly of ourselves. Help us to stop seeing ourselves through the darkness of the failures, flaws, and mistakes of the past and present. Help us to focus on the good work you are doing in us and to believe that is who we truly are and who we can become with your spirit of power, love, and self control/sound mind in us. In Jesus name we pray, amen.