Humility now, exaltation later

Likewise you who are younger, be subject to the elders. 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 5:5, 6 ESV).

Pride and selfishness are the besetting sins of mankind. Always lurking nearby, ready with an enticing word that plays to our vanity and to our self-importance. Many have fallen victim to the siren song of self. Few find the strength to resist.

The answer to these sins is pure love exhibited in humility. Augustine is reported to have said, “Humility is the foundation of all the other virtues, hence, in the soul in which this virtue does not exist, there cannot be any other virtue except in mere appearance.”

Consider the import of that statement for a moment. If we are outwardly gracious, but not inwardly humble, are we truly gracious? If we are outwardly kind, but not inwardly humble, are we truly kind? Without humility, whatever we might display is merely a facade.

Many are the warnings in scripture of pride. The Israelites were punished time and again for their pride. Moab and Edom received prophetic warnings and punishment due to their pride. Kings Uzziah and Nebuchadnezzar paid for their pride with great personal sorrow.

The proud are not wise (see Proverbs 11:2), nor do they trust in God (see Psalm 40:4). Pride leads to disgrace and destruction (Proverbs 16:18). If we reverence God, we should echo the wisdom of Proverbs: “Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate” (Proverbs 8:13).

Christ demonstrated true humility by clothing himself both with humanity (Philippians 2:8), and with a towel (John 13:4-15). If we follow after Christ, we will clothe ourselves with humility. We cannot be like Christ without a humble heart.

Micah summarizes our relationship with God like this, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8).

Friends, if we do not humble ourselves now, we will be humbled later. Notice what Scripture says, “God opposes the proud.” Though the world may reward arrogant behavior, God is actively arrayed against the proud. We may not see it now, but note carefully Jesus’ words, “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled” (Luke 14:11a). The Psalmist was envious of the arrogant, until he discerned their end (Psalm 73:3, 17). If we exalt ourselves now, we will live forever in indignity.

If we humble ourselves now, we receive grace in the present moment, and we will be exalted later. After our Lord humbled himself to the point of death on a cross, he was exalted by the Father. If we will humble ourselves, we also will be exalted by the Father to greater heights than we can imagine. He will exalt us to eternal life with the Savior who died for us.

Will you reject pride in yourself and others? Will you humble yourself and let God take care of the exaltation?

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