James: Day 9

Grace for the Humble

by

Today's Text: James 4:1-12, Psalm 9:19, John 4:23-24, Galatians 1:10, 1 John 5:13-15

Scripture Reading: James 4:1-12, Psalm 9:19, John 4:23-24, Galatians 1:10, 1 John 5:13-15

I remember the last time that I humbled myself before the Lord. I didn’t really have a choice. I woke up before the sun, an hour from home, stared at the ceiling, and writhed in the sheets, trying to get out of my own skin. I didn’t want to be me anymore. “Me” had screwed everything up. I wanted to be someone else, or find a way to go back in time and undo all the wrong I had done.

I wanted to start over.

If I could just go back to the beginning of the year. Or, no, the beginning of last year. Really, if I could go back to before college, that would be best. Or, possibly back to childhood. I was happy then, right? Maybe back then I was okay. I turned to punch my pillow. I know I can never go back far enough. I am who I am. Because of sin, there wasn’t a specific moment in time when things started to wrong. And that is humbling.

I eventually got out of bed and got in my car to drive home. There was an accident on the highway—the kind that makes you put your car in park. I screamed and slammed the steering wheel and didn’t care who saw me in the next lane. The car was pointed home, but I didn’t know where I was going. I just needed to be alone with God and scream at Him and apologize to Him and beg for His forgiveness. Every twenty minutes or so, my mom called to check in on me. She knew I was in a dark night of the soul. “Keep screaming,” she said. “All God requires of us is to acknowledge we have done wrong and turn around.”

Those words had never touched my soul so deeply.

This is the truth: The world seduces us with its material goods, its experiences, its flushes of beauty and its moments of lust. When we’re proud, we walk along that destructive path, trying to feign confidence. We fill our hands with the world’s pleasures, but like sand, it falls through our fingers. We dig and dig, but in the end, we’re left dirty and empty-handed. All the castles we build are eventually swept away.

Humility is admitting the truth: I have nothing. That’s what I screamed to God in the car. That’s what James wants us to shout to the Lord, too. And thankfully, beautifully, God stands arms open wide, ready for us to turn to Him. He holds our hand when we let go of everything else.

Do you know what’s amazing about this kind of humility? Letting go of the world actually gives us the power—God’s power—and strength to live in this world. It’s a paradox. When we put our entire identity in God, we are no longer slaves to the world’s trends or its approval. We can stand up for justice, at the risk of looking foolish. We can endure ridicule, rather than fight for our reputation. When we have humbled ourselves before God, we don’t need the world’s applause, because our treasure is in heaven.

Thank God for humility. And thank God that when we finally, finally, fall to our knees, screaming and ugly-crying before Him, He comes to lift us up.

Punch a pillow today, friend. Tell God the truth about who you are. He already knows. Still He waits for you. He longs to hold you, even though you have nothing but yourself to give.

SRT-James-instagram9

Claire Gibson is a freelance writer and editor whose work has been featured both locally and nationally in publications including The Washington Post, and Entrepreneur Magazine. An Army kid who grew up at West Point, New York, Claire is currently growing roots in Nashville, Tennessee. She loves her husband, Patrick, and their dog, Winnie.

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  • godlovingmum (australia)

    Great reminder for me to check my hearts and my motives and keep them in step with Christ.

  • Marina Lacanilao

    need this as a daily reminder

  • I needed this today! Beth Moore said once that most of us have that one thing that we are not willing to let go of and give to God. That’s me. Why do we put limits on what God can do. This lesson truly helped me!

  • Amen!

  • Love this!!! This is me and has been me…. constantly remaining humble before him!

  • Claire Gibson gets me every time! So much truth and so beautifully written!

  • Kim Pruszynski

    Have any of you ladies read “The fellowship of the unashamed?” It goes like this

    I am a part of the Fellowship of the Unashamed. I have the Holy Spirit power. The dye has been cast. I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made. I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. I won’t look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still. My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, and my future is secure. I am finished and done with low living, sight walking, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tame visions, mundane talking, chintzy giving, and dwarfed goals.

    I no longer need preeminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits, or popularity. I don’t have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised, regarded, or rewarded. I now live by His presence, learn by faith, love by patience, lift by prayer, and labor by power.

    My pace is set, my gait is fast, my goal is Heaven, my road is narrow, my way is rough, my companions few. My Guide is reliable. My mission is clear.

    I cannot be bought, compromised, deterred, lured away, turned back, diluted, or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of adversity, negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity.

    I won’t give up, back up, let up, or shut up until I’ve preached up, prayed up, paid up, stored up, and stayed up for the cause of Christ. I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. I must go until He returns, give until I drop, preach until all know, and work until He comes.

    And when He comes to get His own, He will have no problem recognizing me. My colors will be clear for “I am not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16).

    It’s a great affirmation of what we are to live for!

  • I was so beautifully impacted by this. I keep wanting to size myself up in comparison to others. I keep wanting to be perfect and have those “shiny” life moments. I have found God speaking this to me lately: get back to basics. When I stop seeking a certain career, income, and all the fixins that come with that, I’ll find the real truth. That God is all I need. I don’t need the income and the extras to be successful to Him and really, are those “things” ever actually for us or are they for the people around us to look at us and say oh yes, she’s successful? That humbles me more than anything. WHY do you think you need what you want? Is it for you? Does it help you? Or does it just add to this image of you that you want?

    • Betsy P.

      So well-said; I can completely identify! Thank you for the reminder for constant inner dialogue: “WHY do you think you need what you want? Is it for you? Does it help you? Or does it just add to this image of you that you want?” I feel like I should write this out on a notecard and put it next to my computer every morning!

  • “If I could just go back to the beginning of the year. Or, no, the beginning of last year. Really, if I could go back to before college, that would be best. Or, possibly back to childhood. I was happy then, right? Maybe back then I was okay. I turned to punch my pillow. I know I can never go back far enough. I am who I am. Because of sin, there wasn’t a specific moment in time when things started to wrong. And that is humbling.” Rereading this for the third time this week because it hit so deeply. This year has been my season of these realizations – that I could never possibly go back far enough, because if I look at it, I’ve been screwing up for as long as I can remember. Where do I go from here? How long do I “mourn and weep and wail”? When I’ve humbled myself before the Lord more times than I can count – how do I move forward without losing sight of these striking realizations?

    • Kelsey

      With his grace each and everyday day. As hard as it is to forgive ourselves and move towards his goodness, compassion and gentleness.

      “But God showed his great love for us while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

      He chose you, died for you and loves you. Sometimes the moments that build your relationship with Jesus are the ones where you are completely reliant on him. It’s hard to let go of ourselves and standards but God wants to use us. The Bible is filled with so many examples of Gods servants that didn’t have it all together when God called them to do his work!
      You can move forward knowing you serve a God that truly loves you!
      Your past will always be there, use it to make you stronger, to realize where you have come with the help of the Lord. You are amazing and I just felt God speaking to me to let you know that!

  • Kassie Ramirez

    So good. I just came back from my family’s house after being made fun of for being Christian not catholic. Even though I don’t need their approval it still hurts, so happy the Lord reminded me that I am here to serve Him and my reward is eternal. Thankful!

  • Genesis Maas

    teared up one this. so good.

  • Jody Heavenrich Hensley

    Felt this one!

  • I think that it is easier to give up our plans and dreams for our lives when we realize that God’s plans for us are so wonderful that it is even greater than we can imagine! God is greater. God can do more wonderful things than we can even begin to think of. If that is true and we know that it is, then why would we want to strive for OUR limited plans for our lives when God’s are SO MUCH BIGGER?!! We are God’s masterpieces, made new in Christ Jesus to do the good things He has planned for us! Ephesians 2:10. Help me to remember this God! Help me to walk in YOUR plans, surrendering all – knowing that You have the very best plan for me. I will try to remember to not limit you in my life when the life you have planned for me is beyond my imagination! Please keep reminding me every day as I try to walk your path. Amen

  • You have a great story telling ability Claire! This really hit home. A message that is going to stick with me today!!

  • A punch to the pillow and a punch to the gut. This truly has me reflecting on what the heck I am doing befriending and going after the world when God has given us everything we need!!!

  • Candice Stevens

    Oh my goodness! I feel so less alone when I read the devotional and connect with you all. Thank each of you for being here!!!!

  • “We dig and dig, but in the end, we’re left dirty and empty handed……I have nothing……..He longs to hold you even though you have nothing but yourself to give”

    I am unable to express my thoughts and emotions. I dig. I am dirty. I have only myself to give. Help me want to be clean. Give me the courage to turn around. Bless you Clair for your gift with words. Thank you sisters for all your comments and thank you Father for your mercy.

  • “We can endure ridicule, rather than fight for our reputation. When we have humbled ourselves before God, we don’t need the world’s applause, because our treasure is in heaven.” This one hits very close to home right now. I want to fight back so thank you for the reminder that God’s applause is the only applause I need.

  • “When we have humbled ourselves before God, we don’t need the world’s applause, because our treasure is in heaven.”

    Wow. Feeling so convicted today about my use of social media (especially Instagram) and whose approval it is I seek. I think it’s time for a social media fast.

  • I am clinging so tightly to my own plans for the future. I really don’t want to let them go. Please pray for the courage to humbly surrender to Gods will. And for clarity on his path.

    • J

      I understand your fears, Jerry! Praying for you tonight! His plans can be trusted and they are ALWAYS wonderful for His children. He is faithful to us and loves you with an everlasting love. Lord, please give Jerry eyes to see this truth and touch her life in a way that speaks uniquely and tenderly to her soul in her distress. In the name of Jesus I pray. Amen.

  • Thank you for this devotional, is was very beautiful and powerful!

  • Whoa! It’s an ongoing battle as we live this world. Fixing our focus on Jesus – daily, hourly, min by min bc that enemy sits waiting….but he will not win. I declare it! I give it to God! I know the more the fire inside burns for God, the more attacks will come. Well, they came – they continue & I am giving those to God too. Father God you want to show those around me what faith is, what your enduring love and goodness feel like & I am focusing on letting You do exactly that – I pray for eternal perspective to help me get thru the attacks to where your love is reaching others thru me. God, this is HARD!!! Get me thru it. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

  • Karen Keesing

    Powerful devotional today! Thank you!!

  • Wow! Just WOW.

  • Hi ladies, would you PLEASE pray for me. For fear, panic attacks that keep attacking me.

    • She Reads Truth

      Praying for you, sweet friend. Asking the Lord to be your peace and to remind you that He is a God who sees us and fights our battles. So grateful for you.

      – Stormye

  • How powerful this message is today. I am in awe that through the devotion and the comments, I am not alone in feeling these thoughts – far from it! Glory to God for ministering to so many of us so perfectly today.

    I have been struggling not to become consumed in wondering what will happen if my dreams aren’t seen through to fruition. In the wake of rejection, I have been thinking about and have been swallowed up by what I could have done to help myself more up until this point, what sin I could have conquered to help me get in the right headspace and therefore get me where I long to be, what has held me back thus far, how others surely played their cards better and wiser than I from school days and beyond, and how their preoccupations even now must be better than my mode of doing things if they’re further along down their path in this field. Wondering if my circumstances in life were ever really going to take me where I want so badly to go at all, if there was always just too much beyond my control from the start and too many limitations surrounding my life then and now tracing back a long way. If my methods and energy that have been directed toward survival in my challenging life have handicapped my progress towards my dream and my pursuit. The list goes on, with me and my efforts in the center, and the bottom of this pit utterly endless. How tiresome reading over those words of darkness feels. But then – as I paused and I sat with these words and these sad, miserable and dare I say torturous feelings, I realized with the magnitude of a million bricks to the heart how unlike a Christian all of the words of my thoughts even sound. How void of hope. How poisonous they are if left unchecked by the Holy Spirit’s cleansing truth. They are words and feelings and musings and suppositions that sound like they are from someone without a God, instead of coming from the heart and mind of one with a Heavenly Father who not only reigns on His throne in His sovereignty, but Who loves me tenderly and has placed my very dreams in my heart as well as the skills in my body to use them for His glory. Whose ways are higher than my own, and makes all things new. I am reminded that my testimony won’t look like anyone else’s, and my path is going to be messier than others who have perhaps gone their own way without Christ. That as Christians, we are going to experience these bumps and lessons and fumbles because He desires us to know just how little we really can do on our own, and how very perfect and clear His way alone is. There are too many doubts in my plan. There are too many lumps in my throat in this place. It feels as though I have fallen in every hole, and now I need a way out. This is the fall we must experience. My calling is clear but my way does not work. So, in my depletion and sadness and lump in my throat, I kneel and I say as I believe the song goes, “Take my life, let it be everything, all of me, here I am, use me for Your glory”. I have said this prayer before, but how different it is when your heart knows what your words are saying. I stand, knowing I am not without hope, that my mistakes don’t make me a case-closed failure. His mercies are new every morning, and oh, they are my life support. My Lord alone is my helper and my tears are the emptying of myself, brushing away my past in order to move forward in glory – and I do pray, Lord willing, this might involve the great big things and desires of my heart, placed there tenderly by Him from the start. Even still. Even still. But with confidence I say not my will, but Yours be done, my Lord. Thank You for hearing our cries and caring for the deepest parts of us. God bless you dear sisters!

    • Louise

      Me too. Hoping that God illuminates the way for you.

    • She Reads Truth

      Thank you for sharing this, J! So encouraged by your words and thoughts this morning. Grateful to have you in this community.

      – Stormye

    • Emily B.

      Thank you for sharing your heart with us! I know your words will touch a lot of people, and I pray you know just how deeply you’re loved.

  • Especially grateful for the devotion today. Claire, your rawness and honesty is relatable and really brought this passage together. Thank you, SRT!

  • “When we have humbled ourselves before God, we don’t need the world’s applause, because our treasure is in heaven.” This is one of those truths you hear over and over again until it becomes a thought you brush past because of the familiarity. But yesterday, my husband and I were discussing the weight of this and how difficult it is to let go of caring what other’s think or how we’ll be portrayed in their eyes. And in so many instances, it has become my main focus and even causes me to sin in order to look good to others. I keep believing the lies that the world has something better to offer. And you know where it’s left me? Empty, unhappy, ungrateful. But today, I humble myself before the Lord and confess all of this to Him and to all of you. I would covet your prayers that the Lord would bring me back to Him and help me look to Him and not the world.

    • She Reads Truth

      Thank you for sharing this, CC. You’re right – the world’s lies leave us empty. May we continue to pursue the Lord and remember who we are through His Word. So grateful for you.

      – Stormye

    • Emily Terral

      Stand on the Rock, all else is sinking sand my friend. Prayers for you right now

  • Jamie Simpson

    Thank you. There is so much rich truth to your writing today.

  • This was amazing!! So powerful!!

  • This study is changing my life! Thank you Claire for your spot on devotional and for sharing your story in a way so many of us can relate to. Punching pillows with you today, friends. We are nothing without this grace, His grace.

  • Our pride tends to make us feel invincible at times. We forget that much of what we experience on Earth is just temporary. The “materials goods, flushes of beauty and moments of lust” are only fulfilling for a short period of time. Our eternal gifts lie in Heaven, waiting for us. He is waiting for us. We are blessed to have that moment of humility when we’re stripped bare of all our Earthly possessions. When we have nowhere to turn to but to look up because nothing on Earth can truly save or help us except God. This happened to my family when we moved from Florida to New Jersey 5 years ago… we lost our house and we basically lost everything. We arrived at my aunts house with nothing but our clothes on our back. That was probably one of the most humbling moments my family has ever had to face. That was the moment we realized things had to change. We had to change and we realized we needed to scream and cry and plead to God. After that experience, let’s just say, God has done nothing but bless my family immensely (even though we’ve always been blessed). He wants all of you, up front and center in your most weakest moment because that will be the moment He will make you rise at your most high!

  • There is nothing as freeing and healing as surrendering it all to him <3 I am so thankful that he meets us in both our prideful moments, but our humble moments too.

    http://www.in-due-time.com

  • Cecelia Enns Schulz

    Yes and amen. This was exactly what I needed to read this morning. This is exactly what is true. God doesn’t require perfection or righteousness when we come to him. He requires honesty and he can handle all our “stuff”. We give him the dandelions of our lives and he (knowing they’re nothing but weeds) takes them and puts them in a crystal vase on his mantle and gathers us into his arms. Thank God for his ridiculous grace to me.

  • wow impactante estudio… hoy me dirijo a tomar un examen manana muy importante, que dictara mi futuro profesional pero, este estudio me reenfoca quien soy en realidad—> hija de Dios; que El y yo somos mayoria y que mis tesoros estan en la eternidad que aunque el mundo trate de seducirme, el es mi redentor, mi guia, mi punto de comparacion, que mi vida y mis anhelos los tiene El en el hueco de su mano, y que todo lo que soy se lo debo a El. Por que estaria muerta fisicamente o espiritualmente si El no hubiera llegado a alumbrar mi vida con su verdad… Bless u all sisters!!! I need to be lifted up on pray cause tomorrow is my board(usmle) please can anyone add me to their prayer list!! <3

  • God’s perfect timing for this message. I haven’t wanted to be me for quite some time. Punching a pillow today and pouring out my heart to Him! Thank you,Claire, for sharing your journey with us.

  • need to work on humility.I missed the bus once again today, but my neighbor saw me and offered to drive me in to school. She’s a lifesaver! Haha. If you could all please pray that I get better at managing my time in the morning, that I get enough sleep and that I don’t rush…haha I’m becoming like my mom, she always rushes in the morning!! But, I am not going to be like that!! Lord please help me in this area, help me to accept my mistakes and learn and take action to do better from them. No use crying and getting upset with such little things. A week and a half til school for seniors ends, and two weeks til I graduate high school!! Love you all

    • Sarah

      What an exciting time!!!! I was like you in high school, and also college, but I have finally found a routine in my work life. Although I still struggle with getting out of bed every morning. Praying that God will motivate you in the mornings!

  • Diane Huntsman

    Ugh! This was soooo good!!! Sooooo telling of my own experience!! Not wanting to be me anymore!! Not that I think the commentary on this study wasn’t perfect enough, I feel compelled to share what I shared the other day on Facebook.. maybe it’s for someone out there struggling!
    As far as the east is from the west that’s how far He has removed our transgressions from us.. transgressions: fancy word for sin.. when we truly repent of our sin that crap is forgiven.. too many Christians out there are walking the walk of shame years past the days of committing those life altering regretful acts.. did you know that in Jesus you have been given the right and the freedom to walk with your head held high in His grace and forgiveness? Do not let people who still want you to suffer or the enemy or even yourself hold you captive in the gnarly weight of guilt and shame.. if we are living like that we aren’t believing that the cross was enough.. nah Jesus’ suffering and spilled blood didn’t pay for sin in its entirety, we have to help Him by continuing to walk with heads held low, like cast out citizens.. that’s a bunch of bull crap.. you are no longer slaves to sin or its aftermath, YOU ARE A CHILD OF GOD… repent? Yes! Ask forgiveness of those you hurt? Yes!! Walk away from the sins that mare you and others? Yes!! And then? No more shame.. head held high as you walk on in this gift we have called life!!!

  • churchmouse

    Could it be that humility is directly related to contentment? James tells me that wars and fights (perhaps any interpersonal tensions) come from a passion that rages inside me from desires characterized by wrong motives and covetousness. That’s all ugliness. But when I submit to God, drawing near to Him, and accepting what He gives from His hand for me… Content with the goodness that is always there… Then humility can blossom. It’s all about Him. From Him. And that is all beauty.

  • Claire, I so often love your meditations but, wow! Today the words were just hitting the nail on the head, repeatedly,…I need to snap out of it!
    Amazing. Thank you.

  • Tochi Heredia

    My Spanish NIV version says this on James 4:9 : “Acknowledge your misery, weep, and lament.”

    I’ve been mourning for whom I used to be. I was healthy, active, involved in a million things, surrounded by people all the time. People (with good intentions) keep saying to me that they long to see the “old Tochi”, or they get excited when she reappears during a particularly good day.

    But that doesn’t matter. That’s not who I am, my energy and health don’t define me. I’ve mistakenly seen my pain as the root of my misery. As if it’s just something that happened to me and I’m helplessly trapped in its hold.
    But no, my misery runs deeper and has been an inherent part of me my entire life.

    Today, I don’t weep for whom I used to be. I weep for whom I can never be on my own. And then, I’ll wipe my tears away and rejoice that I can come closer to Him, who accepts me and is the only One that can make me be the “real me”.

    • Kylee

      Praying for you Tochi.

      • J

        I relate deeply to this, Tochi. Satan so wants us to buy into the treacherous and life-destroying lie that our circumstances predict the rest of our lives irrevocably, that our pain is what will forever mark us. This is not of the God we serve, this is not what God has said. He is the God of restoration and newness of life, and I pray for you this morning that you will not only
        be granted healing but that you will continue to be ever-aware that the only label stamped on you now and for eternity is “His”.

    • She Reads Truth

      This was beautiful, Tochi. Thank you so much for sharing. May we never lose sight of who we are in God.

      – Stormye

  • I love how awesome the Lords timing is. I’ve been away from this community for a week or so, and I’ve been sliding back into focusing on material things rather than Him. I think in the back of my mind I knew that I was slowly sliding back, but this morning was an awesome reminder that all of those things I was focusing on are pointless. I am humbled and grateful for the reminder this morning, and praying I can get back in track with daily devotions and focus on God.

  • Powerful study. “Humility is admitting the truth: I have nothing.” I remember acknowledging this when I had no money and no job. It’s funny how we can accumulate so much, and yet still “have nothing” but the true grace and love of God. Freeing words to meditate on when all I want to do is clench fiercely to stuff. Funny how admitting you have nothing also makes you realize how much you do actually have. This acknowledgement transforms into gratitude which is healthy for the soul. Will be coming back to this one. I need to.

  • Good morning sisters ( morning over here) I feel so so blessed and touched by this entire study . Thank you so much .
    its as if everything we have done thus far is exactly where I am in my life . Right now I need prayer because I am fighting within my mind … my prayer life has been super distracted and intrusive thoughts which is evil .

    • Lana

      Praying for you!

    • Caitie

      Praying for you!

    • lynne

      Jodie, l totally am right where you are sister. I will be praying for you. Please pray for me. I want to do what’s right but I feel the pull from the world like I never have before. My heart feels cold, calloused, and empty at times. I don’t even feel like serving God. I feel low but then I remember where Christ has pulled me from and I get my focus back on him. This has been an ongoing struggle. Life is hard but thankfully Jesus has overcome the world!!

      • Emily B.

        You are a victor in Christ! I’m sorry you’ve been feeling low, but remember that He is lifting you up. Satan wants to drag you down, but Christ has already won the battle!

      • Jodie

        Amen !! yes Emily. I have and will continue to pray for you sister

      • She Reads Truth

        Praying for you, Lynne! So grateful for you.

        – Stormye

    • Emily B.

      You are a victor in Christ! I pray you can cling to the knowledge of His presence and not focus on whatever’s battling for control of your mind. He’s got you!

    • She Reads Truth

      Praying for you and this battle in your mind. So grateful for you, Jodie!

      – Stormye

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