God resists the proud, but gives grace unto the humble.
— James 4:6
We live in a day and age when the discipline of the Lord is rarely addressed from the pulpit.
However, His discipline is a clearly taught biblical principle, and if we don’t respect it and willingly submit to it, we will assuredly discover its truth in a less pleasant manner. Pay careful attention to what you read today, because it can make a giant difference in what you experience in this life!
In James 4:6, James addressed believers who were not living according to God’s plan. In some way, they were violating God’s principles, and they were doing it blatantly. So James wrote to them and reminded them of the serious consequences of their behavior, saying, “God resists the proud, but gives grace unto the humble.”
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In this verse, we find that the word “resist” is the Greek word antitasso, a military term that depicts the orderly arrangement of troops to successively wage combat against the non-compliant. It is a deliberate, premeditated arrangement of military might to crush an enemy. The whole notion of the word antitasso in the context of James’s message is that if the arrogant will not willfully bow, God will arrange events so that they will bow regardless of whether it is willful or forced. One way or another, the proud will bow. God, however, invites them to humble themselves willingly rather than be humiliated forcibly.
The word “humble” is tapeinos — a word, which in this case, describes a person who was formerly arrogant but has become humble. In other words, this individual previously succumbed to pride, but he came down from that haughty position to become obedient and conform his behavior to fulfill God’s commands. Hence, tapeinos can accurately be translated to make small, to reduce one’s self-importance, or to humble oneself from previous arrogance. According to James, those who do this on purpose — that is, believers who willfully submit to God’s commandments and turn from their arrogant ways — will become recipients of “grace.” In the context of James 4:6, it means that even though they had run afoul in their attitude toward His commandments in the past, they will receive “grace” to avoid the otherwise unavoidable discipline of the Lord if they willingly submit to God, come back under His authority, repent, and adopt an attitude of humility. That is why James exclaimed, “Submit yourselves therefore to God.…”
The word “submit” is hupotasso — a compound of hupo, which means to place one’s self under another, and tasso, which is the same word used above to describe a deliberate arrangement of military forces. Used together in one word, it becomes hupotasso, and it portrays an individual who willfully places himself under (hupo) authority. Rather than go his own way, he places himself back under command (tasso). There is nothing accidental or haphazard about it. He has chosen to come under authority and has willfully arranged himself under his commanding officer.
In these verses, James appeals to those who arrogantly disregard God’s commands and urges them to realign themselves back under God’s authority. James calls on them to fall in line, submit themselves again in obedience to God, and thus escape divine discipline. If erring individuals retain their current course of action, they will be met with divine discipline. But if they respond to Christ’s plea and reposition themselves back under His authority and thus change their behavior, it is possible for them to avoid the divine discipline that Christ is preparing to lovingly carry out in their lives.
The discipline of the Lord is just as real today as ever before. If a child of God deliberately ignores God’s Word and knowingly goes astray, God will graciously give him an opportunity (perhaps many opportunities) to come back home of his own free accord. But if that person is really a child of God and refuses to come into compliance with what He has set forth in His Word, then God — out of great love for that person — will take other measures to bring him or her back home. It may not feel like it at the time, but this spiritual discipline is divine love in action!
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father, I thank You for Your divine discipline. It is a safeguard to me and also proof of your great love. I ask You to help me see where my attitudes or actions are not in alignment with Your Word and Your ways. Father, I know that You resist the proud and I don’t want to be resisted by You! I willingly choose to humble myself beneath Your mighty hand so that I won’t be humiliated as a consequence of needing to change my ways.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I confess that I am quick to hear and quick to obey. I walk humbly before God and His grace abounds in my life. I am not rebellious or stiff-necked, but I yield to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and I remain pliable in the Lord’s hand, as I deliberately, day-by-day, keep His words before my eyes and I continually ponder them in my heart. I choose to cultivate a sensitive and obedient heart, and the Holy Spirit helps me to judge myself so I won’t need to be judged.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
- Have you ever experienced the discipline of the Lord? I’m talking about a moment when you refused to listen to what God was telling you, so God found another way to get your attention.
- What is the primary way that God speaks to get your attention if you are willfully not listening? It’s different for every person, so in what ways does God act that get your attention?
- God’s intention is love when He disciplines you or me. After you’ve received the discipline of the Lord, did you become aware of what the Lord’s discipline had spared you from experiencing? How did it make you better understand that you are truly and deeply loved by God?