34 He mocks mockers,
but he shows favor to the humble.
6 But he gives us more grace. This is why it says, God stands against the proud, but favors the humble [Proverbs 3:34]. 7 Therefore, submit to God. Resist the devil, and he will run away from you. 8 Come near to God, and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners. Purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Cry out in sorrow, mourn, and weep! Let your laughter become mourning and your joy become sadness. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
1 Peter 5
5 In the same way, I urge you who are younger: accept the authority of the elders. And everyone, clothe yourselves with humility toward each other. God stands against the proud, but he gives favor to the humble.
6 Therefore, humble yourselves under God’s power so that he may raise you up in the last day.
Proverbs was the outstanding example of what we call “wisdom writing.” Hebrew sages, who traced their beginnings back to the reign of Israel’s King Solomon (cf. 1 Kings 5:12), studied and collected concise sayings, pearls of wisdom about good ways to live a life pleasing to God. One of those very short sayings (Proverbs 3:34) was so simple and powerful that both James and Peter later quoted it in their letters to early Christians.
Loving Lord, preserve me from the error of “being proud of my humility.” Help me genuinely recognize my need for your favor and wisdom and ask you for them with a genuinely humble heart. Amen.
* John Goldingay, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Songs for Everyone. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2014, p. 18.
** William D. Reyburn and Euan McG. Fry, comments on Proverbs 3:34 in A Handbook on Proverbs. New York: United Bible Societies, p. 94.
A few months ago, a friend approached me to teach a Bible study at our church, and I honestly wanted no part in it. I knew teaching this class would require a lot of studying and learning on my part, which would be a great challenge. Yet as I began to rethink it, I decided that it was a challenge worth taking on. I have taken this class myself, really enjoyed it, and saw this as an opportunity to grow as a leader and a teacher. Plus I love helping my friends. So, through many different nudges, I felt God turning my “I want no part in this” to “I can probably do this.”
Fast forward a few weeks to the first day of class. As someone who is generally comfortable in front of a group like this, I barely recognized myself. Internal panic alarms were sounding. My heart was racing, I was sweating, and I felt like I might throw up. I thought that surely this was my body’s way of telling me I should not be doing this. I imagined that if I went into the class and tried to pretend I knew anything about the Bible, they would laugh me out of the room. To put it simply, I felt unqualified. I don’t know if you know this, but the Old Testament can get pretty complicated. People have been studying it for thousands of years and they still do not have all the answers. Who was I to be teaching this material with any authority?
I realized in that moment that my only choice was to be humble. Today’s action suggestion is to be authentic and real with others. I second whichever brilliant person added this one to the list. I needed to deeply embrace humility here, there is no way around it. I had to remind myself that no one in my class is expecting me to be perfect. I explained to them that I am really learning alongside them. I was open about the fact that I would have to phone a friend for some of their questions, and I have phoned that friend already…. twice.
As the class goes on, I continue to hold on to my humble attitude. I don’t pretend to know everything about the Bible. When a topic comes up that I don’t have an answer to, I simply say “I don’t know” and “I want to learn more.” Then, I do my best to back that up with my actions. As I teach, I can be teachable. I can be grateful. I can be on time. I can be curious. I can do research and talk to people who know more than me. Luckily, we have a few of those here at Resurrection! As long as I can be humble, I can definitely do this. Being humble, means being able to admit your limitations and accept that sometimes we all need help and guidance. No matter what challenges you face, just remember that it doesn’t matter what you do in life, it’s who you are while you’re doing it that really matters. In all things, we should strive to be just, be kind, and be humble.