I Am Great

 

Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.
– James 4:10

I don’t think I’ve ever stopped to think about the meaning of this verse. I’ve been singing it for years in churches, at conventions, in my cousins’ basement (ah, memories). But not once have I taken the time to think about what it is I’m singing.

“Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord…” The definition of humble means “to lower (someone) in dignity or importance.” This means I am to lower myself. This is what James is telling us to do: in the presence of God (which, with Him being present inside me should be all the time), I am to lower myself in importance. It’s like in the movies when one guy is trying to be the hero, the hotshot, but then the true hero or the “big boss” shows up. What does the hotshot do? He quiets down; he realizes his place, and he offers the respect and importance the boss man deserves.

I am perpetually trying to be a hotshot, but do I really offer God, the true Hero, the honor and importance and dignity He deserves?

It isn’t always easy stepping back and giving someone else the glory, but it’s not like that’s the end of it. Look at what God does when I finally give Him the glory: “…and He will lift you up.”

That is not nothing. That is a big deal! It’s one thing for me to talk a big game and toot my own horn, but when God, Creator of all things, King of kings, Lord of lords, lifts me up in His glory, that’s a whole other ball game. Take Joseph for example. If he just decided one day, in his position as a servant or a prisoner, to start talking up how he was this awesome guy who could interpret dreams and should be Pharaoh’s right hand man, would that count for anything? No! Because he was a servant and later a prisoner. But when Pharaoh lifted him up to be his second hand, everyone respected Joseph, and it meant everything.

Illustration-of-Pharaoh-giving-kneeling-OCI0000374

So it is with me. When I lift myself up and puff myself up, it means nothing, and in fact it leads to my destruction because “God resists the proud” (James 4:6). But when I humble myself before God, and let the glory be to Him, He will lift me up, and I will share in His glory which is far greater than anything I could have done for myself!

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Muscle Man

And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong. -2 Corinthians 12:9-10

How encouraging! How incredibly relieving it is to hear this message! Because I am weak. I screw up. I’m human. How often that gets me down. How often I think to myself that God can’t use me, God can’t work through me, because I’m too much of a mess up, I’m too much of a weakling.

But God says, “No! Your weakness isn’t going to hold Me back. My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” He doesn’t say, “Meh. I guess I could do something with the mess that’s going on here.” His strength is made perfect through weakness. So then St. Paul has the totally right idea–he’s like great! Bring on the infirmities! Bring on the persecutions and the struggles! Because he knows that that’s how God is going to work.

When did God ever use the big guy? He always picks the underdog!

Look at Moses–God refused to use him while he was son of pharaoh. Once Moses fled Egypt and became a shepherd, God said, “okay, time to use you!”

Look at Joseph–he was the baby of the family, he was cast away by his own brothers. He became a slave and prisoner, and God used him to save Egypt and Israel from the famine!

Look at the three saintly youth–they looked like they might just be the weakest ones there. I mean, VEGGIES? Who are they kidding, right? But God made them stronger than any of the other young men.

Look at Esther–a young orphaned Jewish girl who became chosen by the king and who saved the Israelites from being wiped out!

Look at Ruth–a widowed Gentile who took on God as her god and followed Naomi, another widow, without a clue of what was in store, a girl who became a part of the lineage of Christ!

Look at Peter–the man with his foot chronically in his mouth, the man who fought by the sword, the man who denied Christ three times. But who did Christ specifically visit so that he may tend His flock? Peter! And who converted three thousand souls to Christ with just one sermon? Peter!

The list can go on and on! So St. Paul says, “Yeah! I’m weak! But I don’t want my own strength; I want God’s. I’ve seen what it can do, and I won’t settle for human strength.”

So I too will say, bring on the earthly weakness! Bring on the persecutions and infirmities and reproaches if it means I’ll have the strength of God! Will you join me?