Being Lifted Up Requires Bowing Down ~ blog
In James 4, the Apostle James is rattling off very short and intense ideas to which we would do very well to pay attention. These readers seem to be a pretty rough crowd because James is telling them to stop fighting with one another, to quit praying for stuff they spend on their passions, to stop being friends with the world and enemies to God, and they even commit murder. Sounds to me like they were being Baptists … just kidding … kind of.
He tells them that friendship with the world makes one an enemy of God. Those who are all about exalting themselves, adding to their list of accomplishments so that others will think highly of them will find that they have become enemies of God and will find that He is opposing them.
There is a certain danger that comes with success and that is beginning to believe your press clippings. Oh, my goodness … how many examples can we find in the news today? We see them in sports and the entertainment industry and a large faction living inside the beltway around Washington DC who are called politicians.
I have down in my basement some press clippings. When I was a kid growing up the local YMCA had a basketball league for kids in 1st and 2nd grades. It was called the Itty-Bitty basketball league. We used the normal height basket set at 10 feet, but the basketball was a little smaller. I was one of 3 guys on my team that could get the ball high enough to go in the basket.
Whenever the games were mentioned in the newspaper my mom would cut out the article, underline my name, and give it to me to keep. Which I have actually done. I remember specifically one game where our team … which won the league then played against a team of all-stars from all the other teams. We won the game 13 – 8. And I scored all of the 13 points for my team. Probably still a record in the annals of Itty-Bitty Basketball.
James writes these words in James 4:6-10;
“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.”
Now there is some great truth for us in that passage. God opposed the proud but gives grace to the humble. Therefore, we are told to humble ourselves before the Lord and if we can do that, He will be the one exalting us.
Note this … we are told to humble ourselves. Is that anything that you are doing in the way you live? Or has your life become one of “Keeping Up Appearances?” Which was the title of a show on the BBC about … “an eccentric and snobbish lower-middle-class social climber, Hyacinth Bucket (Patricia Routledge), who insists that her surname is pronounced “Bouquet”.
I get the fact about keeping up appearances because I was raised in a military family and no matter what was going on inside the family it could be covered up by putting on the military uniform and looking sharp.
One thing that the revelations about my sexual addictive behaviors have done is that it has humbled me. It nearly destroyed my marriage and family who, by the grace of God, has survived but I now live with a deep sense of gratitude for what the Lord has done in me and with my story to help others.
And the Lord has called me to tell the world what a deeply addicted sexual sinner I became. That was what I accomplished when I was trying my best to be exalted in the ministry as an excellent preacher and leader. The churches I was leading were growing and that made me look good. But inside I felt like I was Gollum from Lord of the Rings. A pathetic man corrupted by lust and craving my precioussss pornsss.
We humble ourselves when we tell the truth. When we take off the mask we have been wearing and let people know who we really are and what we have done. It does not need to be written up in the newspaper or the subject of a 60 Minutes broadcast. However, it does take being honest with God, yourself, and your loved ones.
Jesus once said; “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.”
To which I would add; “You should tell the truth and let God pick up the pieces.”
And when we can tell the truth our story can then be used to glorify God. He is the one that will lift you up … He will exalt you in ways that will not be newsworthy but will give you peace and joy deep down in your heart.