The Humble Will Be Exalted (James 4:10) ~ A Daily Devotion for February 24, 2014

Explanation of the Text: This verse is not the conclusion of the commands of the section, but it is the last command that is related to submission to God. James calls on the believers to humble themselves before the Lord. This humbling of one’s self is not meant to be forced, but instead should be voluntary in a willing action. “Readers are called to repent of worldly attitudes and sinful practices and to take their rightful position of submission and holiness before the Lord.”[1]

There is a small phrase in the midst of this verse that can easily be overlooked. It not only says to humble yourselves, but to do so before the Lord. When one recognizes who they are apart from the Lord, the only response that can come in the presence of God is humility. It is a sense of unworthiness because of who God is and who each person is. Hiebert suggests that the use of the word ‘before’ calls to mind the idea of being under the eye of the Lord[2]. It is easy to forget about the omnipresence and omniscience of the Lord God. As a result, it also becomes easy to become complacent in faith or take sin lightly. However, just as every person needs to consciously remember God’s presence in the need to turn from sin, one should also remember his presence and the need to be humble before Him.

Just as Christ taught during His earthly ministry, James reminds readers that the Lord will exalt the humble (Matthew 23:12; Luke 14:11, 18:14). “The theme of humility here proves essential to James’ thought: God gives grace to us when we are humiliated and exalts us, but we in turn are asked to humble ourselves.”[3] In commenting on the book of Matthew, Osborne reminds readers of the eschatological ideology of this great reversal, noting that God is the one who will reward and judge accordingly, following the lex talionis (Law of Retribution) as found in Matthew 16:21-28 (specifically in verse 27).[4]

Examination & Application of the Text: As we talked about in James 4:6, humility is an essential part of Christlike character. Remember the following from the devotion on James 4:6:

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.

Philippians 2:1-11 points to Christ as the ultimate example of what humility looks like. Christ, being deserving of what the Father has given Him (honor, glory, dominion, etc.) still voluntarily set his right to that claim for the sake of the people in order to accomplish the will of God. This is an amazing thing to consider when recognizing the true cost of Christ’s work. This should be humbling to us in recognizing our position before God and should also be the example for us.

The humility that believers are called to have can be summed up in verse 3-4. Humility is to count others as more significant than yourself. Therefore, humility is seen in conduct by looking to the interests of others before looking to the interests of one’s self.


[1] Homer A. Kent Jr., Faith That Works: Studies in the Epistle of James, (Winona Lake: BMH Books, 2005), 146.

[2] D. Edmond Hiebert, James, (Winona Lake: BMH Books, 2009), 240.

[3] Craig L. Blomberg and Mariam J. Kamell, James, Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, Ed. Clinton E. Arnold (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2008), 195.

[4] Grant R. Osborne, Matthew, Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, Ed. Clinton E. Arnold (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010), 839.

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