Why does a Holy God favor humble, backwoods folks?

Questions about God, the Bible and the Christian culture 

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Question: Why does a Holy God favor humble, backwoods folks?

Answer: Two New Testament authors cited Proverbs 3:34 in their teachings on humility. What I’d like you to do is notice the dichotomy that God set up between pride-in-self and humility in the following passages.

“But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” (James 4:6, NIV)

“In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” (1 Peter 5:5, NIV)

Here’s the thing: if pride-in-self did not exist, then humility would not exist. They exist as each other’s antipodes. Pride is a fruit of the world. In other words, it’s a sin. (1 John 2:16). But humility is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) — and there’s something you should know about it.

Just as salvation is available to everyone who believes in Jesus Christ — regardless of education or sophistication (John 3:16) — so are the fruits of the Spirit available to everyone who is born again by the Spirit of God (John 3:3). They are not limited to simple folks — like backwoods Bible-thumpers! (In case that’s what you were going for with this question.)

The most sophisticated person I know is the head of Reasonable Faith Ministries. William Lane Craig is a philosopher and theologian who has two earned European doctorates — one in philosophy and one in theology... yet he is the most humble high-profile Christian imaginable. My point is that he is the opposite of the clichéd image of a Christian who just wants to love God... and who thinks that faith without knowledge is somehow holier than faith with it!

Make no mistake: Craig has thought his way through this Christianity business. He makes a logical case as to why Christianity is the most congruent worldview — and God uses him mightily! But it’s not just that there are many people like Craig whom we can point to as examples that God loves the erudite among us, too. The Bible says that God does not want us to be faithful-but-clueless. He wants us to grow in the knowledge of Jesus Christ.

“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.” (2 Peter 3:18, NIV)

But God doesn’t want us to stop with Christ. He wants us to look around and assess his creation. He wants us to formulate a worldview that includes every truth… I mean… he even gave that responsibility to the pagans! This means that we should weigh all the data — including fields like philosophy, literature and science — before we formulate our worldviews.

“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” (Romans 1:18–20, NIV)

So, God doesn’t “favor” any category of person when it comes to salvation, the gifts of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12) or the fruit of the Spirit. But when it comes to becoming more Christlike — that is, when it comes to our daily sanctification — I think he does favor certain people. He favors those who put the most energy into the process.

Louis Pasteur famously said, “Fortune favors the prepared mind.” God is like “fortune” in that saying. It’s just that God favors the prepared heart primarily (1 Samuel 16:7). That being said, we prepare our hearts in part by using our minds — and there’s a by-product: when we prayerfully study God’s word and study God’s world, we leave the backwoods, so to speak. We become naturally — and appropriately — sophisticated... and God loves us still.

God bless you.

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