Scripture tells us repeatedly that God resists the proud (Prov 16: 5; Lk 1: 51; Jas 4: 6; I Pet 5: 5). But the Lord promises rich blessings to those who walk humbly before Him. The Bible records many examples of divine favours upon the lowly. Let us consider some of them:
1. God strengthens them in their afflictions
We see this clearly manifested in the life of the apostle Paul, the former self-righteous Pharisee. He was a proud persecutor of the church until he met the Lord Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus. Thrown to the ground, blinded and humbled beyond measure, he arose a changed man (Acts 9: 1-9). Appointed to be the apostle to the Gentiles, Paul was given a new lease of life to serve the Lord. The self-righteous Pharisaic spirit gave way to a life of humility and sacrificial service – “serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears and temptations …” (Acts 20: 19).
We note from his epistles that the apostle endured much suffering for the Gospel’s sake – “in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings” (II Cor 6: 4-5). Despite his great afflictions, Paul could triumphantly declare that God had graciously sustained him in the ministry: “But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me” (I Cor 15: 10). Are we facing trials and testings? Let us humble ourselves before the mighty hand of God (I Pet 5: 6). Like the apostle, let us look to Him to help and strengthen us in our time of need.
2. God dwells in their hearts
The Lord is the sovereign Creator Who is holy and eternal. Yet from His lofty throne of heavenly glory, He condescends to dwell in the heart of the humble: “For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones” (Isa 57: 15).
Though God is high and holy, He has respect unto the lowly. Commentator Matthew Henry explains: “He will have a tender regard to those who, being in affliction, accommodate themselves to their affliction, and bring their mind to their condition, be it ever so low and ever so sad and sorely broken – those that are truly penitent for sin, who mourn in secret for it, and have a dread of the wrath of God, which they have made themselves obnoxious to, and are submissive under all His rebukes. Now, Firstly, With these God will dwell. He will visit them graciously, will converse familiarly with them by His word and Spirit, as a man does with those of his own family, He will be always nigh to them and present with them. He that dwells in the highest heavens dwells in the lowest hearts and inhabits eternity. In these He delights. Secondly, He will revive their heart and spirit, will speak that to them, and work that in them by the word and Spirit of His grace, which will be reviving to them, as a cordial to one that is ready to faint. He will give them reviving joys and hopes sufficient to counterbalance all the griefs and fears that break their spirits. He dwells
with them, and His presence is reviving.”
In his final chapter, the prophet Isaiah reiterated this precious truth – of God’s gracious condescension towards the humble: “Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest? For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word” (Isa 66: 1-2). The Lord prefers the sincere offering of a humble heart to the most elaborate external worship. The lowly therefore need not fear that they will be overlooked or trampled upon, for the Lord blesses them with His gracious favours.
3. God hears their prayers
The proud, however, are an abomination to the Lord. He opposes and resists them. We see this in the Biblical examples of King Nebuchadnezzar and Haman, both of whom had to face God’s judgment because of their pride (Dan 4: 28-37; Est 3: 1 – 7: 10).
The Lord sets Himself against the haughty; He scatters “the proud in the imagination of their hearts” and puts down “the mighty from their seats” (Lk 1: 51-52). But the Lord graciously attends to the cries of the humble: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (II Chron 7: 14).
One clear example is that of King Josiah who started out well, but later in life he trusted in his own abilities. When he repented in deep contrition, God promised to answer his prayer: “Because thine heart was tender, and thou didst humble thyself before God, when thou heardest his words against this place, and against the inhabitants thereof, and humbledst thyself before me, and didst rend thy clothes, and weep before me; I have even heard thee also, saith the LORD” (II Chron 34: 27).
God hates pride. He abases the proud but He deals graciously with the humble. Pride hurts us and affects our relationships with those around us. Let us check our own hearts. Ask ourselves: Do I have a proud spirit? If we do, let us pray for grace to deal with our pride. Determine to cultivate a humble spirit. Learn of the Lord Jesus: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matt 11: 29-30). May the Lord help us to conquer our pride. Amen.