Saturday, September 26th, 2015...3:48 pm

God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble

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I was asked to do the homily last Sunday (September 20) at the Church of the Ascension in Apex, NC. The transcript (which deviates slightly from the audio) and the audio are both provided.

God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. James 4:6b (ESV)

Amen. Lord have mercy. A bad doctor only ever looks for and treats the symptoms of a problem without ever getting to the diagnosis of the root cause of the symptoms. Every particular sin we deal with in our walk with Christ is a downstream symptom of pride:

  • Pride says “I shall be like God knowing good and evil.”
  • Pride sees the Lord transfigured in glory and then argues over who is the greatest on the way back
  • Pride sees Proverbs 31 as a Super Law checklist and uses it to oppress and ostracize others who don’t measure up
  • Pride says “thank you God that I’m not like that tax collector”
  • Pride also says “thank you God that I’m not like that Pharisee”

How does the Great Physician treat this core sin of pride in our readings today? Does he utter brittle authoritarian threats? Does he tell his disciples be clean harder…or else?  No. He takes a little child and gently corrects them. Jesus here exhibits the wisdom from above that is pure, peaceable, gentle.

God opposes the proud. I was the proud, dead in my sins and transgressions…

But God…

God opposes the proud. I am the proud. I’m skillful at arguing over who is the greatest. I am boastful and full of bitter envy and selfish ambition…

But God…

How did and does God oppose us when we’re the proud? By doing the most humbling and humiliating thing possible for God. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Jesus, the humble God, spent a tremendous amount of time in prayer. He came to seek and save the lost and give his life as a ransom for many. He opposes the proud by turning us into the humble and giving grace to us.

Now we have access to the Father in a way that the Patriarchs only dreamed of. Both the Proverb and the Psalm today exhibit for us what a life rooted in Christ may look like. It’s not a checklist; we all have gloriously different gifts. Be who you are in Christ. We just need to remember where we are planted–in Whom we are planted. He is the vine. We are the branches. Amen, Lord have mercy.

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