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What does it mean that God gives grace to the humble (1 Peter 5:5)?

God gives grace to the humble

In 1 Peter 5:5, a clear distinction is made between God’s attitude toward two categories of people, the proud and the humble: “Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble’” (ESV). Humility is to characterize our relationship with fellow Christians, as also seen in many other passages of Scripture (e.g., Proverbs 11:2; Matthew 23:12; James 4:6; Luke 14:11). Fortunately, we have the promise that God gives grace to the humble.

The grace God gives to the humble is the blessing of His kindness and favor. Grace is extended to those who maintain an attitude of humility, who recognize the value of others and submit to the will of the Father. Christians are called to emulate the mindset of Jesus, willingly relinquishing His privileges to serve God and humanity (Philippians 2:5–8). This grace of God begins with salvation, as only the humble will acknowledge their need for a Savior. Jesus implied this when He told the Pharisees, “For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners” (Matthew 9:13, NLT). The Pharisees, relying on their self-righteousness, rejected Christ in pride, while societal outcasts, recognizing their sinfulness, approached Jesus for help (verse 10).

Beyond salvation, God’s grace toward the humble includes the bestowal of honor at the appropriate time, as indicated in 1 Peter 5:6: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” Our innate desire for honor and exaltation is God-given, and only He knows the ideal time for our elevation. Seeking renown through our own merit leads to pride, but walking in humility allows God the opportunity to grant us honor—whether in this life, eternity, or both. Many revered Christians in history might not have foreseen how God would exalt them, but He did, sometimes posthumously. Similarly, our anonymous acts of service, unnoticed by others, will receive their due reward. Every Christian can expect to be glorified when Christ returns (1 Corinthians 15:51–53; Philippians 3:20–21) and be rewarded for faithful service (1 Corinthians 3:12–14; Colossians 3:23–24). In Jesus, we witness an example of the exaltation following humility (Philippians 2:7–11).

Many fear humility as they assume it would make them seem weak, insignificant, and even dishonored, but Scripture states otherwise. It is the proud who should exercise caution and repent, lest they face opposition from God Himself. In contrast, the humble become recipients of God’s undeserved grace.

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What does it mean that God gives grace to the humble (1 Peter 5:5)?
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