How do you get more grace? Well, from a strictly logical standpoint, each time we sin, we are extended a measure of grace. So then let’s just sin a lot so we can get a lot of grace, right? “God forbid!” (see Romans 6:1ff) I’m thankful for that grace that is extended to us, but there is a clear formula for receiving God’s grace laid out for us in James 4: Be Humble.
Jonah 1 gives us a negative example of this concept. Jonah is given a clear cut command by God. Rather than humbly submitting to God’s instructions, Jonah, knowing God’s merciful character, decides to get as far away from God’s command as possible. Had he thought of God’s omniscience and justice, he might have thought twice. As a result, God resisted Jonah’s plans. When Jonah repented in humility, that grace was given, but not as long as Jonah rebelled.
1 Samuel 17 on the other hand shows a man who could have been very proud and argued with God, but chose the humble road. David, having done so much for Israel militarily and politically, saw the need for a place to worship God (a noble cause) and desired to build it (a noble intention). He went to Nathan and explained his desires. God, through Nathan, refused to allow David to be the one to carry out this plan. David could have said, “But God, don’t you know what I’ve done for your people? Don’t you understand who I am?!” Instead, he humbly responded in verse, “Who am I?” I don’t deserve the blessings that you have given me.
Often we like to think of ourselves on one side or the other, but we probably find ourselves in the position of the Pharisees more often than we’d like to admit. We look like we are righteous, but our hearts don’t reflect that humility. “For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.”
That brings us back to James 4. How can we be humble? How can we have grace? How can we ensure that we are not resisted by God because of our pride? The paragraph of James 4:6-10 explains it for us.
He gives grace to the humble. If we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us. That entails having pure outward actions (“Cleanse your hands ye sinners”) and pure inward motives (“purify your hearts ye doubleminded”). It involves repentance (“Be afflicted and weep and mourn…”). All these bring us to the result in verse 10. “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.”
The key to grace is humility.