“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth”. (Matthew 5:5).
THE DANGER OF PRIDE
Pride is the opposite of humility, and the scripture warns us about its dangers. Pride excludes God, and instead relies on human strength and wisdom to achieve objectives or resolve problems. It gloats in its self-sufficiency – “In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him; all his thoughts are, ‘There is no God.'”(Psalm 10:4 ESV). The secular humanism and the moral relativism of our age are direct results of such prideful arrogance, which exalts human perspectives over the commandments of God. Even in so-called Christian nations, we find judges condemning the righteous, and treating their values with disdain (Psalm 31:18). Pride leads individuals, organisations and communities, along paths that seem practical, even humane to human eyes, but lead ultimately to disgrace (Proverbs 11:2), and destruction (Proverbs 16:18).
Pride will be judged, while grace is extended to the humble. In fact, God has fixed a day when He will thoroughly judge and eradicate all pride, which wrought the downfall of angels and men. “The Lord Almighty has a day in store for all the proud and lofty, for all that is exalted (and they will be humbled), for all the cedars of Lebanon, tall and lofty, and all the oaks of Bashan, for all the towering mountains and all the high hills, for every lofty tower and every fortified wall, for every trading ship and every stately vessel. The arrogance of man will be brought low and human pride humbled; the Lord alone will be exalted in that day, and the idols will totally disappear” (Isaiah 2:12-18 NIV).
The fall of Babylon (Revelation 18) gives a vivid imagery of the spiritual prostitution which results from overweening pride, and its terrible final end. In contrast the rewards of humility are innumerable.
The Inheritance of the Humble
- Access into the Kingdom
- Outpouring of Grace
- Divine Protection
- Enduring Riches
- Honour and Victory
Access into the Kingdom: “At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who then is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Jesus called a little child to stand among them. “Truly I tell you,” He said, “unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:1-4 BSB).
These verses capture the value God sets on humility. Without humility, one cannot enter God’s Kingdom because the first steps towards His house are repentance, remorse for sin, and self-abasement as we acknowledge that we, in our sinful state, deserve nothing but His wrath. Until we come to the point where we realise the futility of our best intentions and well meant works, and we cast our lot on the mercy of God and His redeeming work on the cross, the doors of heaven will not be opened to us. In the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector, we find that the prayers of the self-righteous pharisee were rejected, but the tax collector who humbled himself, and cried “God, have mercy on me, a sinner!” was justified (Luke 18:9-14). God justifies the humble and repentant, and welcomes them into His Kingdom.
Outpouring of Grace: ‘But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble”‘ (James 4:6 ESV). Few religions have stories similar to those in the Bible of wicked nations like Nineveh or evil kings like Nebuchadnezzar, Ahab or Manasseh, turning to the Lord in an attitude of humility and repentance, and being forgiven and even restored to their former greatness. So we have this utterly magnificent promise from our God – “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14 ESV).
Even when we sin and do things that displease God, His hands are open to us, if we return in an attitude of humility. Without humility it is impossible to be open about our sin and neediness, or to receive this promised abundance of grace. But grace, and more grace is apportioned to those will continually walk in the path of humility.
Divine Protection: God’s special care and protection surrounds the one who chooses the path of humility – “Has not my hand made all these things, and so they came into being?” declares the LORD. “These are the ones I look on with favour: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at my word” (Isaiah 66:2 NIV). The humble are specially watched and protected by God on the Day of Judgment, when His wrath is revealed against all sin – “From the heavens you uttered judgment; the earth feared and was still, when God arose to establish judgment, to save all the humble of the earth” (Psalm 76:8-9 ESV) and “…seek righteousness; seek humility; perhaps you may be hidden on the day of the anger of the LORD” (Zephaniah 2:3 ESV).
Jesus, when tempted by the devil, did not yield to sin, because He willingly acknowledged the authority of God over every area of His life and work. It takes humility to reject provisions, solutions, gifts or honour which are not authorised by scripture. From the beginning of our salvation until the end, humility is our safeguard against the deception and tactics of the enemy. On that Final Day, we will be spared the wrath and punishment that comes to those who reject His authority.
Enduring Riches: Like any wise human father, God wishes to bless His children not with vanities, but with true and enduring riches. He desires for us to be humble, for humility makes it possible for Him to open His storehouses and pour His showers of wisdom, mercy and blessing over our lives. “There is precious treasure and oil in the dwelling of the wise…” (Proverbs 21:20 NASB). The eyes of the humble are set not on the ‘treasure that decays’, and it is precisely for this reason that they are given authority and access to lasting treasures, both in the natural and spiritual realms. They will enjoy the fruits of wisdom and maturity in their lifetimes, build stable homes, and leaving a lasting inheritance for generations to come. “The reward for humility and fear of the LORD is riches and honour and life” (Proverbs 22:4 ESV).
Joshua was a worthy successor of Moses and a true leader of the Israelites. His approach to the division of their common inheritance in the Promised Land speaks volumes. He refrained from coveting the best portion for himself. He supervised the land allocation with great integrity, putting himself last in the allotment of the land and taking only what his countrymen were willing to give him. God’s eternal favour and infinite riches are at the disposal of the humble, because He trusts them to steward everything with integrity (Proverbs 11:2), and for the benefit of all.
Honour and Victory: The Bible talks about the riches of our spiritual inheritance. Humility transforms character, and the result is great spiritual authority – “what you bind on earth is bound in heaven, and what you loose on earth is loosed in heaven”. Rick Joyner, in his book ‘The Final Quest’ describes his vision of the spiritual realms. He saw people and angels walking about, and he noticed some who were dressed in coarse brown cloaks. They were greeted with special honour by the others, and it was explained to him that the cloak was humility, a virtue highly esteemed in heaven. Humility opens the way to honour and victory – “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted” (Matthew 23:12 ESV), and, “The fear of the LORD is instruction in wisdom, and humility comes before honour” (Proverbs 15:33 ESV).
“But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace” (Psalm 37:11 ESV). The final destiny of the humble and the proud are explained in the scripture. The principles of heaven are in direct contradiction to the principles of the earth, and in the end, the former will triumph. When the reign of Christ begins, we will see the true blossoming and flourishing of this divine law, but even now on earth, we often see that in the long term, sometimes over the span of several generations, the proud are humbled, and the lowly exalted. When Christ returns to reign, He will fully reward all those who gladly took their places among ‘the least’, and did not despise the ‘day of small beginnings’ or their lot of being servants to others; and they will indeed reign as kings and queens in the new earth (Revelations 5:10).