Look at the following translations of the same verse written by James. In several versions, we humble ourselves before or in the sight of the Lord while in several other versions, we find ourselves humbled (or meeked) by an outside force, perhaps by God Himself or by other human beings. At any rate, whether we cast ourselves down or are cast down by others, as we allow ourselves to remain humble, the Lord will exalt or lift us.
The haughty spirit – the proud – this is the one the Lord must discipline. Jesus’ harshest words are for those who hold themselves in high esteem. The Lord lifts the ones who feel the most unworthy and often those we view as the least in the kingdom of God.
Be ye meeked in the sight of the Lord, and he shall enhance you.
humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. James 4:10KNOX
Cast down yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. James 4:10GNV
Be humbled in the sight of the Lord, and he will exalt you. James 4:10DRA
I don’t think Job says it much differently than “God proves me as I pass through fire” as I indicate via the title of this little note. Job must feel as if the fires of hell are descending upon him as his children, his servants, his animals die, and as his own body is attacked. Yet, he denies sin. He cries out:
10 But [God] knoweth my way, and he shall prove me as gold (and he shall assay me like gold), that passeth through the fire.
11 My foot followed his steps; I kept (to) his way, and I bowed not away from it.
Job claims to follow God’s steps, to keep to His way, and to not stray from the truth. His friends protest, saying that can’t possibly be true; but God scolds them.
Job continues to maintain his innocence until God confronts with this: “Who are you to question Me?” God says to Job, “Brace yourself like a man; I question you, and you will answer Me.” (Job 38:3, NIV)
“Keep watch over your ability and prudence, do not let them slip from sight; they shall be a charm hung about your neck and an ornament on your breast. Then you will go your way without a care, and your feet will not stumble.”
“Do not spurn the Lord’s correction or take offence at His reproof; for those whom He loves the Lord reproves, and He punishes a favourite son.” (Proverbs 3:11-12) “Can anyone be a son, who is not disciplined by his father? If you escape the discipline in which all sons share, you must be bastards and no true sons. Again, we paid due respect tot he earthly fathers who disciplined us; should we not submit even more readily to our spiritual Father, and so attain life? They disciplined us for this short life according to their lights; but He does so for our true welfare, so that we may share His holiness. Discipline, no doubt, is never pleasant; at the time it seems painful, but in the end it yields for those who have been trained by it the peaceful harvest of an honest life. Come, then, stiffen your drooping arms and shaking knees, and keep your steps from wavering.” (Hebrews 12: 7-12) Remember,”in your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.” (Hebrews 12:4-5)
“Throw off every encumbrance, every sin to which [you] cling, and run with resolution the race for which [you] are entered, [your] eyes fixed on Jesus, on whom faith depends from start to finish: Jesus who, for the sake of the joy that lay ahead of Him, endured the cross, making light of its disgrace, and has taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of God. Think of Him who submitted to such opposition from sinners: that will help you not to lose heart and grow faint.” (Hebrews 12:1-3)
Live an honest life, which results from maintaining your focus on Christ. “Think of Him” at all times; do “not lose heart.” Do not “grow faint.” “Keep your steps from wavering;” “stiffen…[your] shaking knees.”
“I alone know My purpose for you, says the Lord: prosperity and not misfortune, and a long line of children after you. If you invoke Me and pray to Me, I will listen to you: when you seek Me, you shall find Me; if you search with all your heart, I will let you find Me, says the Lord. I will restore your fortunes.” (Jeremiah 29:11-13)
God allows us to find Him when we search diligently; when we call on Him and pray to Him. He listens like no human being is capable of listening — with full understanding. God alone knows His plans for us. Where there is misfortune, He will restore prosperity.
God sometimes places us — or allows us to place ourselves — in situations that are particularly tough for us — in places of “exile.” He says, “To all the exiles whom I have carried off from Jerusalem to Babylon,” “when a full seventy years has passed over Babylon, I will take up your cause and fulfill the promise of good things I made you, by bringing you back to this place.” (Jeremiah 29:4, 10) Here God has an actual time frame in His plan; and He rebukes prophets who claim differently. “Do not be deceived,” He warns, “by the prophets or diviners among you.” (Jeremiah 29:8)
God has plans and purposes known only to Him — He determines discipline and the manner in which He brings people back into a close relationship with Him. Despite allowing our troubles and misfortunes, He also decides when and how and where to restore “prosperity”. As Paul reminds us, “in everything, as we know, He co-operates for good with those who love [Him] and are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
Jesus says, “If anyone loves Me, he keeps My Word. My Father loves him, and We come to Him and make Our home with him.”
“As many as I love, I rebuke and discipline. So be committed and repent. Listen! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I come in to him and have dinner with him, and he with Me. The victor I give the right to sit with Me on My throne, just as I also won the victory and sat down with My Father on His throne.” (Revelation 3: 19 – 21)
Belief, commitment, endurance, repentance under discipline, listening, opening, communing — these are the keeping of God’s Word of which Jesus speaks.
Jesus commands us to listen. We are reminded to be still and know God. His Word speaks to us in stillness and silence. “If anyone hears My voice,” says Jesus. Without hearing, how can we believe? Open the door when He knocks; let Him come in. Sit at His feet, and listen.
Fathers, do not exasperate your kids – “provoke not your children to wrath.” Rather, raise your children to know the Lord, primarily by teaching them the Word and setting an example for them to follow. Do not lie to your sons and daughters, but tell them the truth in love. Be gentle with them as they have tender spirits. Do not subdue them to the point where they are incapable of expressing themselves, but allow them room to speak their minds.
Since masters are not to threaten, surely fathers are not to threaten their children.
Granted, spare discipline and you will regret the result. Solomon promises that if you “train up a child in the way he should go…when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22: 6)
Jesus recognizes that fathers are good to their children — that fathers have a natural inclination to love and protect their children. Fathers do not give evil to their sons and daughters when good is requested. Instead, a father gives the good gift — knowledge of the Lord.
“Consider [Jesus] who endures from sinners such hostility against Himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.” (Hebrews 12: 3)
Keep your eyes fixed on Him so you may be able to “run with endurance.” Throw off every burden, avoiding the “sin which clings so closely.” Look to Jesus, who is literally thrilled to accomplish His Father’s will; and so “endures the Cross, despising the shame.” By setting aside His terror and finding strength in His Father, He becomes “the founder and perfecter of our faith.” Now He is “seated at the right hand of the throne of God” where He intercedes for you and me.
Know that “in [our] struggle against sin [we] have not yet resisted to the point of shedding [our] blood.” (Hebrews 12: 4) Therefore, God disciplines us as His children and we are not to “regard lightly the discipline of the Lord.” (Hebrews 12: 5) God “disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness.” (Hebrews 12: 10) Discipline “yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who are trained by it.” (Hebrews 12: 11)
Remember that “[we], who are dead in [our] trespasses and the uncircumcision of [our] flesh, God makes alive together with [Jesus], forgiving us all our trespasses, by cancelling the record of debt that stands against us with its legal demands. This He sets aside, nailing it to the cross.” (Colossians 2: 13 – 14)
“Therefore, as [we] receive Christ Jesus the Lord, so [we] walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith.” (Colossians 2: 6 – 7)
We walk in Christ by faith.
Try to find His kingdom, try to obtain His righteousness first — before all other considerations in your life. Everything else will then be provided. A straightforward formula, if you will.
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” (Matthew 7: 7 – 8)
If Christ stands at the door and knocks, and you — who are seeking Him with your whole heart — open the door; then He will find you and you will find Him.
Jesus says, “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with Me.” (Revelation 3: 19 – 20)
Because He loves us, He will discipline us.
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will hear you. You will seek Me and find Me, when you seek Me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29: 11 – 13)
As Jesus reminds us, what parent when her child asks for a fish gives the apple of her eye a stone instead?