And he gives grace generously. As the Scriptures say, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” — James 4:6 (NLT)
“Humility. Imitate Jesus and Socrates.” — Benjamin Franklin
Do you want to experience more of God’s favor and grace working in your life? The fact that you’re reading a devotional like this indicates you value your walk with God and want to draw nearer to Him.
However, asking for more of God’s grace in your life does not imply God is a giant, cosmic lucky rabbit’s foot to keep in your pocket or an Aladdin’s lamp to rub to make your wishes come true. According to the Bible, there is one sure-fire way to receive more of God’s grace: humble yourself.
That revolutionary act not only goes against our human nature, it goes against today’s culture. And think how we are swimming in an ocean of advertising, much of which carries the same drumbeat: “You deserve it. You’ve earned it. Reward yourself.” Fast food chains have become multi-million dollar Goliaths thanks to ad campaigns like “You Deserve A Break Today” and “Have It Your Way.” One research group claims: “The United States is, by far, the largest advertising market in the world. In 2021, more than 285 billion U.S. dollars was spent on advertising in the United States. This figure is close to triple the amount spent on advertising in China, the second largest ad market in the world.” (source)
The cooing messages urging us to indulge our pride, entitlement, and self-centeredness are everywhere. Even though the phrase “the seven deadly sins” is not in the Bible, the scriptures certainly warn against them: pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, anger, and sloth. As proof of how far our culture has veered from biblical principles, some people and corporations celebrate what they have dubbed “Pride Month,” but we never hear any mention of “Humility Month.”
Some people confuse the word “humility” with “humiliation,” but they are different. The Bible describes humility as meekness, lowliness, and focusing more on God and others than self. (Some also confuse “meekness” with “weakness,” but meekness is “strength under control,” like the image of a powerful stallion that has been trained to carry a rider.) One writer put it this way: “Humility isn’t thinking less of yourself – it’s thinking of yourself less.”
What else does the Bible teach about humility? In the famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus claimed, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt. 5:3 NIV) In Luke 14:11 (ESV) Jesus implied there is an inverse relationship between how we try to promote ourselves and where we end up. “For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
As evidence of how the whole Bible points in one direction, the Old Testament says this about God. “He mocks proud mockers but shows favor to the humble and oppressed.” (Prov. 3:34 NIV)
Benjamin Franklin sought to “imitate Jesus,” and that lowly spirit is showed in Philippians 2:1-11 (NIV), a powerful passage any time, especially as we enter the Easter season.
“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
The word for you today is, humble yourself before God, and watch Him raise you up in His time.
This is the last of a 13-Part series, based on 13 virtues that Benjamin Franklin sought to incorporate into his daily life, each of which has a scriptural basis. Franklin began this system in 1726, when he was incredibly only 20 years old. He realized that, since each year has 52 weeks, one can repeat this series four times annually. A chart like the one Franklin designed to help one mark one’s progress can be found here.