It is possible to submit outwardly and yet not be humbled inwardly. God hates the sin of pride, and He will chasten the proud believer until he is humbled. We have a tendency to treat sin too lightly, even to laugh about it (“let your laughter be turned into mourning”).
But missing God’s goal (aka sin) is serious, and one mark of true humility is facing the seriousness of sin and dealing with our disobedience. “A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise” (Ps. 51:17).
You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time. | 1 Peter 5:5–6
Sometimes we hear a believer pray, “O Master, humble me!” That is a dangerous thing to pray. Far better that we humble ourselves before God, confess our sins, weep over them, and turn from them. “To this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembled at My Word” (Isa. 66:2). “The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saves such as be of a contrite spirit” (Ps. 34:18).
If we obey these three instructions, then God will draw near, cleanse us, and forgive us; and the wars will cease! We will not be at war with God, so we will not be at war with ourselves. This means we will not be at war with others. “And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance forever” (Isa. 32:17).
I must put the government of my life on His shoulders and let Him become the Prince of Peace in my life. When I humble myself, God will exalt me through Jesus.
- James 4:10 — 10 Humble yourselves in the presence of the Master, and He will exalt you.
- Matthew 5:3–5 — 3 “Happy are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 “Happy are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. 5 “Happy are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.
- Luke 1:46–55 — 46 And Mary said: “My soul exalts the Master, 47 And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. 48 “For He has had regard for the humble state of His slave; For behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed. 49 “For the Mighty One has done great things for me; And holy is His name. 50 “And His mercy is upon generation after generation Toward those who fear Him. 51 “He has done mighty deeds with His arm; He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart. 52 “He has brought down rulers from their thrones, And has exalted those who were humble. 53 “He has filled the hungry with good things; And sent away the rich empty-handed. 54 “He has given help to Israel His servant, In remembrance of His mercy, 55 As He spoke to our fathers, To Abraham and his descendants forever.”
- 1 Peter 5:5–6 — 5 You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble. 6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time,
- Proverbs 3:34 — 34 Though He scoffs at the scoffers, Yet He gives grace to the afflicted.
The key, of course, is the phrase “in due time.” God never exalts anyone until that person is ready for it. First the cross, then the crown; first the suffering, then the glory. Moses was under God’s hand for forty years before God sent him to deliver the Jews from Egypt. Joseph was under God’s hand for at least thirteen years before God lifted him to the throne. One of the evidences of our pride is our impatience with God, and one reason for suffering is that we might learn patience. Here Peter was referring to words he heard the Master say: “For whosoever exalts himself shall be abased; and he that humbles himself shall be exalted” (Luke 14:11).