There’s a great statement from Charles Spurgeon that should give us all pause in this period of Facebook and Instagram mania. Read what he says nearly two hundred years ago:
“We have plenty of people nowadays who could not kill a mouse without publishing it in the Gospel Gazette. Samson killed a lion and said nothing about it: the Holy Spirit finds modesty so rare that He takes care to record it (Judges 14:6). Say much of what the Lord has done for you, but say little of what you have done for the Lord. Do not utter a self-glorifying sentence!”
Spurgeon wasn’t simply uttering his own bias; he knew the Scriptures. He knew that there are negative references all over the pages of the Bible regarding self-aggrandizement and pride. Indeed, as we’ll see this week in our text, James 4, humility is not just a laudatory virtue; it’s foundational to the character of God.
Listen to what the Psalmist says in Psalm 24:9, “He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble His way.” In Proverbs 15:33 we read, “The fear of the Lord is instruction in wisdom, and humility comes before honor.” Listen to what the Lord says through His prophet, Isaiah, “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 (Isaiah 57:15).
While there are over seventy specific references in the Scriptures to the supreme virtue of humility, the full import of this trait is most profoundly seen in the Lord Jesus. Remember how He describes Himself in Matthew 11? “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am humble and lowly of heart: and you will find rest for your souls.” All through His life and ministry humility is on full display. That’s why Paul, writing from a Roman prison in Philippians 2 says, “Have this mind in you which is yours in Christ Jesus.” What mind? The mind of humility.
In a message entitled, “The Gift of Humility”, we will examine what James, the half-brother of Jesus, has to say about the importance of humility in a Christian’s life. Indeed, without the gift of humility, unity among believers and fellowship with God is destined to be pallid at best.
In preparation for Sunday’s teaching you may wish to consider the following:
- What link can you find between humility and peace or rest in the Scriptures? (See James 4:18f.)
- What is the meaning of the word “passions” in verses 1 and 3?
- How does pursuing these passions mark us as adulterers? (v. 4) (Note Matthew 12:38f.)
- In what way is pride the first and foremost sin in our lives?
- What does the Bible say are some of the consequences of pride?
- What is your interpretation of verse 5? How does verse 6 follow from verse 5?
- Why would Paul cite the words of Philippians 2:4-11 from a Roman prison?
- What does true humility recognize? (See verse 4.)
- What does true humility REALIZE about the Holy Spirit’s work? (See verse 5.)
- What is true humility’s REACTION to the presence of one’s sin? (See verse 6.)