Focus: Winning through humility
James 4:6 (NKJV) …“God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
As we study humility and its relationship to depression and dependency, it’s impossible to avoid an obstacle that repeatedly reveals itself. The opposite of humility is pride. Could it be that part of why we have struggled so much with depression and dependency has been because of our pride? Pride is a part of human nature. Pride is an issue that will continue to present itself as long as we live.
Someone who has lost all their pride—is dead. You might differ with that, and it’s your privilege if you do, but even the feeling of resentment about the concept that anyone living has some pride left—is pride showing itself again. The thought that we might have lost our pride and might now be completely humble—is pride. If you had lost all your pride and had true humility—you wouldn’t know it. So, it’s best to assume we all still have some pride and need to keep working on it.
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In the game of life, the process of pride purification can wear on you. The game is played and won through a series of ‘tests’. If you ‘resist’ a test—or fail it, you repeat it until you get it right. When you pass a test, it probably doesn’t mean you’re officially humble, it just means the next test will be even more challenging and require you to die a little more. Giving up and deciding you’re not going to ever be humble is a ‘cop out’. In order to win—you have to keep playing. This isn’t the kind of game where there is only one winner. Anyone can win. You don’t have to play at all. But, if you decide to play—expect a challenge.
So, how do you keep agreeing to be ‘made low’? There is an answer in James 4:6. The ability to endure testing actually comes when we stop resisting the tests. When we stop trying in our own strength and trust God to help us pass the tests—He blesses us with the ability to not only stay in the game, but to win. This is another paradox or mystery of the life that is ‘hidden in Christ’.
In our society, we are taught to win by being the best at something. In most forms of competition, specific standards have been established. As a competitor enters, they must perform according to the standards required and excel beyond the ability of anyone else in order to win the prize.
In various sports and fields of study—people give years of their lives to train and learn discipline. They endure hardship and pain. They continually push themselves past their limits, in order to become stronger and smarter and more capable of excellence.
Many people condition themselves to work extremely hard and accomplish extraordinary achievements in their lifetime. A precious few, however, persevere selflessly—to the point of bloodshed…in order to win.
In my childhood, there was a small team of missionaries who had a passion for an unreached people group in South America. They bravely put themselves at the mercy of a tribe of natives who lived by a totally different code than our culture. It was their custom to kill other humans ‘as a sport’. This didn’t stop the missionaries in their attempts to befriend these lost souls. The goal was to establish communication so the language could be learned for the purpose of producing scriptures the natives could learn to read and understand.
All of that was finally accomplished—but, not the way the missionaries had originally planned. One day, after several visits to the native settlement—the missionaries were speared to death by the people they were trying to become acquainted with.
In the following years, the missionaries’ widows and other family members returned—not willing to face defeat. They actually lived with the same people who killed their loved ones. God gave them the grace to finish the work—and win.
Did the missionaries who died fail? No—they won, too. The victory just required a lot more than they had hoped it might—yet they were willing.
Jim Elliot, one of the martyrs, wouldn’t have had it any other way. Before his death, he recorded in his diary the extent of his commitment. “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose.”
Declaration: I will find new strength by staying in the game. I will keep taking the tests until God decides my pride is gone and I get to go home.
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