10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.
The call to humble ourselves follows James’ admonition in the previous verse to mourn and weep before the Lord for our sins. “Be afflicted,” James 4:9 says, “and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.” When we stand in the presence of the Lord, let us humbly acknowledge our unworthiness to come before Him because of our many sins. Let us humbly admit that we have no merit of our own to be granted access to His holy presence. Our sins are odious in His sight. We have defied His righteousness and aggravated His just wrath by committing them against Him. We need to admit, like David, “Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight” (Psalm 51:4). When a person is truly awakened to a sense of his guilt and danger, he needs to beg for God’s mercy and forgiveness to turn away His wrath and deliver him from the guilt of his sin. He must pray like the prodigal son who, in returning to the father, said, “I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee” (Luke 15:18). Therefore, let us plead for the Lord’s pardon, because our sins are against Him who alone can pardon us. Let us humble ourselves before Him, confess our sins and seek His forgiveness.
To humble ourselves in the sight of the Lord means to recognise our spiritual poverty, as well as to acknowledge our desperate need of God’s help and to submit to do all His commands. This humility is beautifully exemplified in the tax collector of Jesus’ parable, who acknowledged that he was a sinner and unreservedly called out to God for mercy. Jesus said in response, “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted” (Luke 18:14).
Humility is the only appropriate and acceptable attitude we can have before the Lord. This truth is taught throughout Scripture. James mentioned earlier in verse 6 – “Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” God will utterly reject the proud, but will lift up the lowly. When we exalt ourselves by relying on and relishing in our own abilities, status, or wealth, God will condemn us. But He will bestow His grace, forgiveness, redemption and glory upon all those who come with humility. He will lift up their sad and troubled souls and grant them joy, peace and His glorious presence.