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
James calls us to be humble, modest, meager, self-effacing, submissive, despirited, or broken willed “in the sight of the Lord.” He writes:
“Be ye meeked in the sight of the Lord, and he shall enhance you.”
If you’ve ever had the privilege of seeing monks in prayer while prostate on the floor before the Host, then you understand “meeked” as used by James in his letter to Jewish Christians living among Gentiles outside Palestine. Trappist monks, in particular, live meager, modest, humble lives of hospitality and silence. The more submissive, the more self-effacing, the more “broken-willed” and “despirited” a monk appears “in the sight of the Lord,” the more God appears to enhance the man.
You may notice this enhancement in the eyes or in the easy smile. But, you will become aware of God’s handiwork.
Paul tells Titus “to obey magistrates” and to “be ready to every good work.” (Titus 3:1) He also tells him “to speak evil of no man.” Instead Paul calls Titus to “show all meekness unto all men.”
Therefore, authority must be respected. Work must be completed with excellence. Gentleness and humility must be the standard of each day, and we must not speak evil of anyone. Paul encourages these behaviors by reminding Titus and us that “we ourselves also were once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.” (Titus 3:3) But — and this is a huge ‘however’ — due to “the kindness and love of God” we are washed by “regeneration” and renewed “of the Holy Spirit.” (Titus 3:5) We are “justified by His grace,” and “made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:7)
Because we are regenerated, justified, renewed and heirs of eternal life — we are called to be merciful and gentle. How can we be anything but kind to others? We ourselves are the recipients of the undeserved and incredible kindness of God Himself. How can we behave in any other manner than the one Paul commends to us?
Because Jesus dies while bearing our sins in His body, we are to live to righteousness rather than to sin. “For [we] have died, and [our] life is hidden with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3: 3)
“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.” (Colossians 3: 12)
“Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4: 8)
Jesus’ love covers a multitude of sins. Our lives of sin are hidden in Christ; our sins being nailed with His body to the tree at the Mount of Olives. Now we live as “God’s chosen ones,” seen by Him “holy and beloved.” Now, we are called back to “the Shepherd and Overseer of [our] souls” (1 Peter 2: 25) by way of Jesus’ sacrifice and our acceptance of His gift of salvation. “According to His great mercy, He causes us to be born again to a living hope through [His] resurrection.” (1 Peter 1: 3)
Our lives are hidden; and we are “born again” to righteousness — a righteousness purchased for us by Jesus Christ.