If someone were to ask me, “Paul, what do you consider to be, one of the most (if not the most) important character traits in being used by God, in having a happy, healthy marriage and in having long-term successful relationships with friends and family?”
My answer: Humility.
No one has helped me more in understanding what a “prideful, arrogant” life looks like as opposed to a “humble, broken” life than Nancy Leigh DeMoss, in her superb book, Brokenness: The Heart God Revives. This book would certainly be one of the best, most personally impacting books that I have ever read.
The Apostle Peter, probably known as the most naturally arrogant of the disciples in his early years of ministry with Jesus, writes in his later years (after learning many lessons the hard way), the following:
“God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5).
And then he goes on to say: “Therefore, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time.”
The force of the Greek text in v. 5 could accurately be translated as, “God stiff-arms the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
How would you like to be “stiff-armed” by God? Not me! I want and need all of the grace from God that I can get.
Notice also in v. 5 “who” is the One that does the “exalting.” God!
Matter of fact, Jesus said in Luke 14:11, “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Over the years in ministry, I’ve had dozens of men approach me about wanting to go into full-time ministry. Many times they have tried the “self-promotion” route and have come up empty. In many of these situations, no doors are opened for them and no one seems to be asking.
I always counsel them (only when asked for my opinion), “Faithfully and humbly serve Christ where you are, with the opportunities in front of you and He promises to do the ‘exalting’ when and how He wants. He will open those doors if, when and how He desires. Trust His sovereign hand.”
I’ve learned over the years that there are two ways to end up humble: Either choose to humble yourself before God and others or let God do it for you! Trust me, I’ve been in the second category too many times to count (it’s painful).
Notice that Peter’s command in v. 6 is “humble yourself…” We’re commanded to choose humility each and every day, in all of our relationships and conversations. Humility in our relationships with others begins with humbling ourselves before God.
Augustine, one of the great leaders of the early church, once made this statement:
“If you ask me what is the #1, #2, #3 most important quality of a Christian, I will answer by saying: Humility, Humility, Humility!”