“But He gives more grace. Therefore He says:
‘God resists the proud,
But gives grace to the humble.’”
The “therefore” indicates the reason God makes His grace available to us. We engage God’s promises and His grace through humility. That is the one condition for receiving God’s grace.
James quotes Proverbs 3:34 from the Greek translation of the Old Testament (the Septuagint). Peter also quotes this verse in 1 Peter 5:5.
1 Pet. 5:5, “Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for
‘God resists the proud,
But gives grace to the humble’.”
A “proud” person is someone who shows himself to be above others. The Greek word comes from two words: over and to appear. Thus, a proud person is someone who appears to be over others. He disdains and despises other believers.
The New Testament always uses this term for the sinful ideas of arrogant, disdainful, haughty. This is someone who loves to have the preeminence. He has a pompous estimate of his merit or means and carries an ostentatious pride. He wants to show himself above other people. He carries contempt for others because he is so full of himself.
The word “resist” has the meaning of to set oneself against, to oppose oneself to. It comes from two Greek words: against and to arrange. “Resist” was a military term carrying the idea to arrange in battle against. God sets Himself in full battle dress against proud people. Pride is the foundation of sin from which all sin flows.
God goes to battle against the proud.
The proud believer sets himself above other believers. God then sets Himself above this believer and goes to battle against him.
We must not confuse pride with genuine greatness. Some great believers stand head and shoulders above the rest of us. Pride believes that we are greater than we are. This is a figment of our imagination.
God will set Himself against us to do battle with us if we depend on ourselves. This is not passive resistance but active opposition. He will actively battle against us if we operate on pride. No sin provokes God’s resistance more than pride. This sin will preempt us from engaging God’s grace because no other sin sets itself against God more than the sin of pride. It is a declaration of independence from God.
We can find pride in every sin because pride is independence from God and the foundation of all sin. Pride deems itself sufficient and God’s grace insufficient for our needs.
Pr 16:5, “Everyone proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord;
Though they join forces, none will go unpunished.”
Spiritual pride is deadly because it deceives us into believing that we are spiritually above others. Pride hinders God’s grace offered to those without Christ, and pride hinders “more grace” to those who know Him.
Envy, self-seeking, and ambition have pride as their root. Humility does not seek preeminence. A humble believer is not self-seeking. He does not feel that he has rights but knows that everything he has comes from the Lord. He knows that all that he has is from God. God will give him more grace because he values grace in the first place.
1 Co 4:7, “For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?”