“But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” (James 4:6, AV)
I had a conversation with a man one time who did not like the direction of our church ministry. While we believed that the direction was from the Lord, he believed that we were totally off track and needed to change everything to cater to his particular vision. He believed that his was the only way it could be done and that we were wrong. In the conversation, he mentioned that he was not being proud. He just thought he knew better than us and was the only one who knew the correct ministry philosophy. I have to admit, I was quite taken back by his statement. Anyone who has to tell me that he is not proud, raises a red flag. Often people consider themselves so humble that they are proud of it.
James here presents a universal principle regarding God’s provision of grace. God is the giver of all grace and He give grace to the humble. The proud person cannot expect God to provide grace. In fact, what the proud person can expect is the opposition of God.
The word proud here, huperephanos, refers to one who shows oneself above others. The word comes from two words, huper, referring to above and phaino, which refers to shedding light. The proud person considers himself to be the shining star among everyone else. This person has a highly elevated view of himself or herself.
To experience God’s resistance in life is obviously not a good thing. In this resistance, we will lack the grace we need for life and ministry. You see, apart from God’s grace, we can do nothing good. In the context of this section of James’ letter, God’s grace is essential for us to overcome man’s fleshly desire for appeasement by the principles of the world system. Without God’s grace, we would find ourselves entangled with worldliness. We would delve into the various forms of ungodliness and in no way produce the good works that would glorify God. Therefore, we need His grace and we need it abundantly.
We cannot afford to have pride enter into our lives because it hinders the flow of grace to us. Scripture teaches us that “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18, AV). However, there is a big problem. We are all prideful people. The problem of pride is something that is written into the DNA of our fleshly nature. Those of us who think we have no problem with pride are so deep in it that we are drowning in a sea of it and gasping for air. All of us need to constantly humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God (1 Pet 5:6) so we may experience the blessing of His grace in our lives. We need to be conscious of the pride problem and humble enough to admit we have it. It is only then that we will cry out to God for that blessing of grace that we so desperately need.