Are Your Spiritual Knickers in a Knot?

All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because,

“God opposes the proud
    but shows favor to the humble.”

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” –1 Peter 5:5-7

When you get dressed in the morning, do you remember to put on humility? Here Peter says to “clothe” ourselves with it. The Greek word used is enkomboomai, which means “to put on a garment that is tied.” In the first century, the garment worn with a belt of some sort was the tunic. It was the undergarment worn next to the skin and was usually covered with an outer garment called a “mantle.” When Jesus laid aside his outer garments to wash the disciples feet, one of them was the mantel, and he would have been left wearing his tunic.

The Greek word Peter chose for “humility” is tapeinophrosynē, which means “lowliness of mind” or “modesty.” It makes me wonder if Peter had in mind a word picture of putting on an undergarment for the sake of modesty.

 The Greek word used for “proud” means assuming, haughty, and arrogant. James 4:6 also uses the same Old Testament quote as Peter used above. Then, in verse 7, he gives a striking juxtaposition: “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” The word “submit” in Greek means to bring under a state of influence or to make obedient. The word “resist” in Greek means to oppose or stand out against. James lists some of the evidence of pride: fights, quarrels, murder, envy, covetousness, self-reliance, wrong motives, distance from God, pleasure-seeking, and friendship with the world. These folks had it all backwards. They were resisting God, not the devil! 

One of the things the Lord corrected me for in the past was arguing with people about interpretations of the bible. He helped me see that I wanted to win an argument, not a soul. Jesus did not argue with people and insist he was right. He gently taught the truth. He also allowed time for the Holy Spirit to do his work. For me, I know I have to slow down and be patient with people when I share my faith. Sometimes I want fast-food service when God has in mind a much more elegant, leisurely, enjoyable dinner.

Our Lord clothes himself with “splendor and majesty,” and he “wraps himself in light as with a garment.” (Psalm 104:1-2). We can be clothed in many things: salvation (2 Chronicles 6:41), joy (Psalm 30:11), shame and disgrace (Psalm 35:26), strength and dignity (Proverbs 31:25), despair (Ezekiel 7:27), power (Luke 24:49), the imperishable and immortality (1 Corinthians 15:54), and Christ (Galatians 3:27). What outfit are you wearing today?

The clothing in our closets may or may not be as extensive as our spiritual wardrobe, but we all must remember to wear the undergarment of humility.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, you are clothed in light and truth. Love is your kingly raiment. Clothe us in your Holy Spirit so that we may be like Jesus, who is gentle and humble in heart toward all. Amen.