… All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because,
“God opposes the proud
but gives grace to the humble.”
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.
There are two contexts for humility in these verses, each necessary, but difficult.
The first – foundational – is humility toward God. “Humble yourselves … under God’s mighty hand.” This, of course, is the doorway to salvation in the first place. We can’t cry out to be saved until we’re able to see our need and, willing to embrace it, come humbly before the Lord for forgiveness, healing and redemption. But it doesn’t stop there – it can’t – for our need continues, our brokenness has deep roots, and our best is always touched by human frailty. So, admit it. Without reservation. Keep abiding in him, knowing that apart from him you can do nothing – in other words, we will always need him, not just for eternal security but for every moment, every breath, every endeavour.
The grace he gives meets us in our need, giving us everything for life and godliness. We experience his sustaining presence, his empowering touch. We see his fruitfulness breaking forth in our lives. In those moments, it is easy to think that strength resides in us, in our own inner core, to even take pride in the gifts we’ve received and to lean into confidence itself. We lift ourselves up, rather than bringing ourselves down to meet him again in our ongoing need. To abide in him requires us, again and again, to maintain humility.
But there is another context for humility highlighted here also. “Clothe yourselves with humility toward one another.” Oh, how difficult this can be. There’s difficulty in bringing ourselves down a notch or two beneath where we continually peg ourselves – down into reality. But there’s also difficulty in seeing the need in the first place. Each of us is surrounded by so much human frailty and weakness and sin. It’s the only kind of humanity there is. Looking out from our own viewpoint it’s so easy to see the failings of others, especially when they match with our own perceived strengths. None of us “suffers fools gladly” when their foolishness comes in an area we count ourselves wise. But it can so easily allow us to lift ourselves above that sister or brother, blinding us to the fact of our own weaknesses because we are focusing so readily on theirs.
Humility towards others is the platform from which we find ourselves able to extend grace. Because our own need for grace becomes so obvious, we are not surprised by that of others. Humility is the launching pad for peace and reconciliation. We gain insight into the fact that our brother’s failings, which originally caused our breach, is of one cloth with our own – we’re in the same boat. Indeed, our eyes may more clearly see our own part in the first place.
Clothe yourselves with humility. It’s the only way to dress. Toward one another. Before God. Trusting his mighty hand.
O Lord, I confess my easy pride. I slip into it again so readily. Rooted in your grace, give me clearer sight of my own reality, to come down from the heights, submitting my need under your hand. Help me to live with that attitude towards sisters and brothers, especially when I am most aware of their own failings. Dress me in humility. In Jesus.
Is there a current relationship in which you are tending to “look down”? Confess it to the Lord. In what ways could you “clothe yourself in humility” today?