When a general returned from a victorious battle, ancient Rome would stage a parade to welcome the conqueror home. The parade would include the general’s troops, as well as trophy captives who had been brought along as evidence of the victory. As the parade made its way through the city, the crowds would cheer their hero’s success.
To prevent the general’s ego from becoming unduly swollen, a slave rode along with him in his chariot. Why? So that as the Roman throngs heaped praise on the general, the slave could continually whisper in his ear, “You too are mortal.”
When successful, we too may lose sight of our own frailty and allow our hearts to fill with destructive pride. James pointed us away from the danger of pride by pointing us to humility and to God. He wrote, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6). The key to that statement is grace. Nothing is more wonderful! The Lord alone deserves thanks and praise—especially for the grace He has lavished on us.
Our achievements, success, or greatness are not rooted in ourselves. They are the product of God’s matchless grace, upon which we are eternally dependent.