9 Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
The thinking of our day tells us that we need to be positive, that we need to build of the self-esteem in our children so they can feel good about themselves. The unintended (I hope) consequence of this thinking is that we have produced a generation (or two) of young men and women who are fully narcissistic. We have asked these young men and women to look inside themselves and see how good they are, to see how wonderful they are, to affirm their greatness and their potential. But is this the way the Bible talks about us. James spends all of chapter 4 pointing us to the core of our every difficulty in life – PRIDE. Our pride creates an attitude that we should have what others have so we fight and quarrel because we don’t have it. We judge others because of our pride. We even are prideful in where we will go and what we will do. James uses this moment in his letter to knock us down a few dozen notches. He makes it clear that the self-esteem philosophy of this world (and often taught in many seeker churches) is distorting the truth about our true nature. When we look into our hearts we should not see goodness, greatness and potential what we should see is the very depravity of our sinfulness. We should see the wretched nature of our soul so much that it causes us to weep and mourn. Why? Because it’s at these moments that we can receive from God something better than self-esteem, we can receive forgiveness, grace and mercy. When we see the horrific nature of our sin in light of the glorious holiness of our God we will humble ourselves so that the Lord may exalt us, maybe not in this life, but certainly in the life to come. We serve a wonderful Savior and God, but he has nothing to offer the proud and boastful, no his gifts are for the meek and humble. So look inside yourself, see your sin, but quickly turn away to look to Jesus so you don’t fall into despair. Place your hope in God.