Clothe yourselves with humility because God opposes proud men, but to humble men He gives grace

by Mike Ratliff

25 But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. 26 It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, 27 and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:25-28 NASB)

27 καὶ ὃς ἂν θέλῃ ἐν ὑμῖν εἶναι πρῶτος ἔσται ὑμῶν δοῦλος· (Matthew 20:27 from the NA28 Greek text)

There is a group of men I do not allow to comment on my blog, but who attempt to do so anyway. Their comments go immediately into the SPAM folder. I usually just dump it once a day without reading them. However, once in a while when I know that, through the discernment ministry God has given me, I have hit a precious target of our enemy, certain men in that group attempt to comment in direct, vicious attacks meant to do one thing alone. That one thing is to discourage me and thwart me from continuing in obeying my Lord as His δοῦλος in exposing false teachers and their doctrines to the Body of Christ. It is an interesting way to gauge whether I am on target or not don’t you think? I also find it very interesting that the accusations in those attacks are always meant to rouse me to some sort of self-defense or rebuttal type of response meant to “put them in their place.” When my anger reaches that point I know that my flesh has taken over and it is time to spend some time in humble repentance with my Lord before the Throne of Grace. What is my response to the attacks after that? I simply erase the SPAM and move on. 

1 Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, 2 shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; 3 nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock. 4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. 5 You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.
6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, 7 casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. 8 Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. 10 After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. 11 To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 5:1-11 NASB)

The word “elder” translates the Greek word πρεσβύτερος or presbuteros. In this context, Peter is referring to the leadership in the Church. In this passage Peter refers to himself as a συμπρεσβύτερος or sumpresbuteros, which the NASB translates as “fellow elder.” The point of this passage was Peter’s instruction of how these elders are to conduct themselves in their office. They are to shepherd the flock, but not as domineering dictators forcing people to obey under compulsion, but willingly as examples to the flock. How are they to do that?

About halfway through v5 Peter says, “…ταπεινοφροσύνην ἐγκομβώσασθε, ὅτι [ὁ] θεὸς ὑπερηφάνοις ἀντιτάσσεται, ταπεινοῖς δὲ δίδωσιν χάριν…” (from the NA28 Greek text)

Here is the NASB’s rendering of that section of v5, “…clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.

Here is my translation from the NA28 Greek text, “Clothe yourselves with humility because God opposes proud men, but to humble men He gives grace.”

The word translated here as “humility” is ταπεινοφροσύνην which is the Accusative, Singular of ταπεινοφροσύνη or tapeinophrosunē, which is, “a lowliness of mind, the esteeming of ourselves small inasmuch as we are so; the real estimate of ourselves. For the sinner ταπεινοφροσύνη involves the confession of sin as his true condition.” For the Christian, this is our state of full realization of the magnitude of our fallenness and redemption in Christ. He is Lord and each of us are his δοῦλος or slave. Therefore, what Peter is saying to all of us, not just elders, is that we must clothe ourselves with this ταπεινοφροσύνη.

The word that is translated above as “Clothe yourselves” is the verb ἐγκομβώσασθε, the Aorist, Imperative, Middle form of ἐγκομβόομαι or egkomboomai. In other words, this is a command. This word literally means to “clothe oneself.” Peter is saying that we are to interact with everyone with humility. Why? God does not give grace to those who are proud, but only to those who are humble. That means that if we walk through our lives, interacting with others with pride then we are not living in recognition of our own fallenness, our own sinfulness and how much we do not deserve this salvation any more than any one else. Therefore, when we treat others from a basis of self-orientation in all things then we are being prideful and God will not give us the grace to grow more Christlike. He will not give us more wisdom or discernment. He will not grace us with His grace. No, He will resist us. This is when we will find ourselves in situations when everything is against us and God seems far away and our prayers seem to go nowhere.

I am sure all of you know what I’m talking about. Your enemies seem to be able to overwhelm you during times like this. What is the solution? Humble yourselves before God and everyone else. Confess your sins as you turn from self to God. Walk as Christ’s slave in all things instead of yourself as Lord. If you will do this then you will be watchful and the roaring Lion will not be able to harm you. You will be able to resist all of his attacks. You may indeed still suffer much, but you will have joy and peace through it all, not bitterness and defeat.

Soli Deo Gloria!