But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. (James 4:6–10, ESV)
Probably none of us would openly admit to a desire to live in opposition to God (at least, if you’re a Christian you shouldn’t want that). Yet today’s passage bluntly (go James!) explains that those who choose pride square off against God.
That’s not a good thing.
God opposes the proud because pride tells him, “I don’t need you! I can take care of myself just fine.” The problem with that is that you can’t take care of yourself just fine. You and I desperately need him moment by moment, not only for salvation but for each breath and everything in between.
These verses fall in the context of exhorting the wealthy who are driven by greed and worldly desires. Modern America is the wealthiest society in human history and the temptation to be self-sufficient lurks everywhere. When we choose to submit to God and humbly acknowledge our great need of him, God’s rich grace is poured out upon us. He exalts and lifts up those of a humble heart. It is right to be brokenhearted over our sin and to be shaken by our inability to do anything for God on our own. The humble heart clings to Jesus Christ as his all in all — as his prize and the source of all righteousness.