Saturday, July 25

Don’t pick a fight with God!

Scripture: Isaiah 46-49, 1 Peter 5

1 Peter 5:5–6 In the same way, you who are younger must accept the authority of the elders. And all of you, dress yourselves in humility as you relate to one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 6 So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor.

Observation

It was customary in Peter’s day for the younger to show deference to the older, so there was nothing remarkable in his command that younger people submit to or accept the authority of elders.  

But the next command was a radical departure from custom.  Everyone was to show humility toward each other.  Humility was not considered a virtue in ancient times, but a weakness.  It was Jesus who elevated humility to a virtue, and made pride and self-righteousness a vice.  (See John Dickson’s excellent book, Humilitas, for a survey of the history of humility.)

When Peter says, “Dress yourself in humility,” I wonder if he pictured Jesus at the Last Supper wrapping himself in a towel to wash the disciples’ feet—an act of supreme humility.  

Peter adds that God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.  The word “oppose” pictures God taking a stand against someone and actively resisting them.  Pride invites a fight with God, and this is not a fight you can win!  Pride is not only offensive to people around you, but to God.  “Pride is the only disease known to mankind that makes everyone sick except the person who has it.”

Part of the grace that God gives the humble is that He exalts them, or lifts them up.  Rather than lifting myself up in pride, I can humble myself and God will lift me up!  

Application

Be humble in all your relationships.  This means being willing to listen, willing to be wrong as well as being right, willing to learn, willing to serve anyone or do anything.  No person and no task is beneath me.  

I just finished Brant Hansen’s new book, The Truth About Us: The Very Good News about How Very Bad We Are.  He reviews Jesus’ teaching on pride, humility, self-righteousness and that we are not good—only God is good.  The good news is that it sets us free to let go of our pride and self-righteousness and need to be right.  I’m deeply flawed but fully loved by God.  I can be humble and I can let go of needing to judge you to justify myself.  It’s very freeing!

Be humble.  Listen, learn, serve.  You’ll be a lot happier—and you’ll have God working for you, not against you.

Prayer: Lord, this goes against my nature, so I need Your help.  Remind me when I need it to be humble!