He Gives Grace (James 4:6) ~ A Daily Devotion for February 18, 2014

“But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, ‘God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ ~ James 4:6

Explanation of the Text: The word ‘but’ in this verse indicates a connection to the previous verse. Therefore, there must be some understanding to verse 5 before understanding the true context of this verse. One of the major things that was discussed in yesterday’s devotion was the inner conflict between the flesh and the spirit, or for unbelievers, their denial of the spirit at all. And yet, the verse says that He gives more grace. In this lies the hope of every person! Despite the nature of men, God gives grace! In overcoming that conflict with the flesh, which wants to take us towards worldliness, God has given grace in order to prevail. Charles Spurgeon remarks, “We must clearly point out the fountain of inward grace as well as the stream of manifest service which flows from it. The principle of grace produces that practice of goodness, and none can create or preserve that principle but the God of all grace.”[1]

James then quotes Proverbs 3:34 as it is found in the LXX. The word “proud translates the compound noun huperēphanos, composed of huper (above) and phainomai (to appear, or be manifest). The idea is that of disdainfully and arrogantly supposing oneself to be above others.”[2] It is pride that allows a person to say to himself, “I don’t need God for this part here, because I can handle it on my own” or even to say, “I don’t need God at all.” It is because of pride that people can willfully and scornfully turn their backs on God. This is because pride does not recognize the need God’s truth in one’s life.

Humility recognizes the true position of a person. It recognizes shortcomings and the need for a savior. It recognizes strengths, not to be boastful, but as something from God in order to glorify God. Dwight Moody describes humility’s action in one’s life with this story: “Dr. Bonar once said that he could tell when a Christian was growing. In proportion to his growth in grace he would elevate his Master, talk less of what he himself was doing, and become smaller and smaller in his own esteem, until, like the morning star, he faded away before the rising sun.”[3] Each of us should become less, so that the Lord God can become more. All things should point towards Him and the work He does through us.

Matthew 5:3 states: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” This verse epitomizes what happens in humility, and thus gives a tale of where pride fails. Pride would tell a person they have no need for God, no need for heaven, and thus they will reject the gift of grace that God has given in the first part of the verse. Humility, that trait that makes a person teachable, allows them to acknowledge their shortcomings and their need for God. It is humility that recognizes the need for God’s grace. For that reason, they will be part of the kingdom of heaven, because it is in this humility that one can come before God and say, “I cannot do this on my own. I am a wretched person have need of your Son as my Savior. I give my life to you.”

Examination & Application of the Text: In his exposition of the text, Charles Spurgeon outlines a number of things that can be learned from the text, which include:

1)       An attitude of being thankful and an attitude of admiration.

2)       It gives direction in spiritual conflict.

3)       It provides encouragement.[4]

In recognition of where grace comes from, it should constitute in every person, an attitude of thanksgiving. Being thankful to God for the grace He gives undeservingly, every believer should be in awe of His precious gift. Likewise, we see the work of God’s grace in our weaknesses and failures, which should not only procure an attitude of thanksgiving towards Him, but also admiration.

Likewise, during times of spiritual conflict, the fact that God gives grace should tell each person where they need to go in the midst of spiritual battles….to God. Only He has the grace to give you so that you can endure those battles. It is God who sustains man, not man who sustains God! He does so through grace, and as he extends grace to each of us, we should extend grace to others, including those whom we may be battling.

Finally, this should provide encouragement for every believer. It is encouragement to continue fighting the battle for God (not for self) knowing that He has already given victory, which is the second part of the encouragement. We are called to stand firm for Him, however, God has already given the ultimate victory and we can trust in that! How encouraging to know God, who is completely omnipotent, has given the grace needed for daily spiritual battles that every person faces.

Finally, there is a final aspect of application for this verse, and that is to clothe one’s self in humility. This is no easy task! It begins by recognizing who we are apart from Christ, which are sinners who have offended God. It then is followed by recognizing the need for Him to fill our lives, involving a complete surrender over to His will. Humility must also be genuine. A forced humility is not humility at all. Therefore, just as love should be genuine, so should humility. And who better to look for as an example of humility than Jesus Christ, as seen in Philippians 2:1-11.


[1] Charles H. Spurgeon, Spurgeon’s Sermon Notes (Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc, 1997), 683.

[2] John F. MacArthur Jr., James, MacArthur New Testament Commentary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1998), 199.

[3] Paul Lee Tan, Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations: Signs of the Times (Garland, TX: Bible Communications, Inc., 1996).

[4] Charles H. Spurgeon, Spurgeon’s Sermon Notes (Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc, 1997), 684.

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