Reflections July 2016
A Reflection for July 2016 by Richard Parrish


Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. – James 4:10 [1]



“Let’s make America great again!”
We’re hearing that campaign slogan a lot these days. We also hear: “America is already great, but we can be even greater.”


This article is not about political campaigns. Honestly, I have friends who are Republican, Democrat, Independent and Libertarian. There is ample rhetoric about politics everywhere we turn. It is – and always will be – an unending subject filled with controversial topics, too significant to mention.


What I do not hear much of is a clarion call for us to humble ourselves.


I’m aware of how a message that stresses humility is unpopular. It goes cross-grain to what we are conditioned to believe. We’re encouraged to imagine that bigger is better, and less is not all that great. That’s why loud conversation, and public relations that emphasize the success of an individual or company is more attractive – and hollow!


It’s not too often that we hear people talk about their failures, foibles, or fiascos. Somehow, we prefer to shy away from discussions of disappointments, personal or professional disasters, or ethical compromise. Unless those conversations can somehow bolster our misguided assumption of greatness, or serve to deride an individual or company, we are quick to avoid them. The hard, truthful, and exposing conversations are just too uncomfortable.


Let’s be honest: Success continues to seem more attractive than failure, and being rich seems more comfortable than poverty.


A follower of Christ chooses to submit to the purpose of Jesus; the One we follow. We do not do it perfectly. James (the author of the text above) understands. The values of Christ are faultless; we’re not!  That’s why James reminds his audience (and us): “Humble yourselves before the Lord…”


He understands that in the kingdom of God, acclaim (success) is not measured by accomplishments, wealth, or popularity. Rather, the greater value we can achieve is humility. It is through self-abasement that God raises us. The way up is down, because – although our society places high esteem upon being great – in the kingdom of God: “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6).


As a follower of Christ, I must continually guard myself against being influenced by this earthly kingdom. Although my desire is to live according to the principles of God’s kingdom, sadly I’m not as successful as I want. However, with each failure, there is an invitation for me to “…humble myself before the Lord.”


Perhaps acknowledging my failure, confessing my sin, and engaging in the honest and hard conversations (those not intended to bolster my image or position), is much more pleasing to God.  Somehow, I believe this type of exchange is much more beneficial to others.


In every area of life (even in politics and business), to become even greater begins with submitting our ambition, objectives, and dreams to God. For each of us, we would do well to focus each day on James’ reminder:


“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.[2]


Let’s Make America HUMBLE Again!  Let it begin with me.

[1]The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Jas 4:10
[2] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Jas 4:7–1



●     How much time do I spend thinking of how to become more successful?
●     What areas in my life need to be submitted to God?
●     Does my “press release” only focus on my accomplishments?
●     How might I speak about my failures? What have they taught me? How can my disappointments 
       be opportunities to help others?
●     What keeps me from humbling myself before the Lord?