Tuesday, July 31, 2007

James, Chapter 4

We have been on quite a journey through the first three chapters of the book of James. In chapter four we will hit on two major topics. We will see the importance of being submissive in front of God, and we will briefly touch on the dangers of being boastful about tomorrow. Being submissive before God assures that we are in line with His will, and ultimately that is what we all seek in this life.

As we discussed yesterday, part of God's will is heavenly wisdom, which prevails over earthly wisdom because it is what God wants us to do instead of what the world wants us to do. Earthly wisdom is selfish, while heavenly wisdom is selfless. How we gain that heavenly wisdom is by being submissive before God. We must make sure that which we ask for in prayer is in tune with God's plans. If we are in step with God, then we will be given what we want and all the tools needed to accomplish His work. That is what I desire for my life, and for this blog specifically.

    "Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." – James 4:7

Part of resisting the devil is submitting to God's will. As long as we are doing God's will the devil holds no power over us. The leader of a small Bible study my wife and I, a gentleman named Micah, has a theory that as long as we have our focus on God we are incapable of sin. It is when our focus is away from God that we become open to the temptations of sin. As humans though it is a constant struggle within ourselves to submit to God's will. We have our own ideas and our own plans that we think is best, even if God has other ideas. We think in terms of the way the world works, and not in the way that God works. As the author says in verse four, the ways of the world are not often in concert with God's ways.

"You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God." – James 4:4

I don't believe this verse is telling us to sever all ties with the world, because that would not be working on concert with the great commission to go and make disciples of the nations. This is where many Christian groups go wrong, by taking a verse like this and using to form their own exclusive clique in which they shun those who are not part of their group. It is when we become a friend of the way of the world, not the world itself in terms of individual people that we fall into danger. We are still to reach out and befriend unbelievers because that is our commission. We must remember that we are to, "hate the sin and love the sinner," in this case. The sin is the corruption of a broken world, but the people that are sinning are those that we must show compassion to.

There is a person that very personally and painfully wronged me a little more than a year ago. I have spent many nights wondering just what would happen if I met this person again. The human in me, the one the world would agree with, wants nothing more than to beat him within an inch of his life. It's not even about getting revenge. It's about causing this person pain and making them feel only a small part of the hurt they caused me. I know many people that would not fault me for feeling this way, but I know it is wrong because it is not want Christ wants and requires of me.

What Christ requires me to do is love this person and pray for them, even though it is among the hardest things I have ever done. My desire to beat this person centers on my own selfish wants, and it is not what God wants for the greater good. In a simplistic perspective, God wants this person to come to Christ and my attitude does not advance this goal, so it is wrong. This is much easier said than done, however, and each person has their own situation that has similar consequences. We must reject hostility toward God and all attitudes that promote that hostility while still loving individual people as God loves them.

The final four verse of chapter four talks about boasting about tomorrow. This is not to say that we aren't to plan for the future. Much of the book of Proverbs talks about the benefits of preparing carefully for the future. This is merely a warning to show us that God is ultimately in control of our lives, and we are powerless to work against his plans. We can have an idea of what we want to do, but if God has other things in mind for us then we will find that there isn't much we can do but go along for the ride. In the end his plans are better anyway.


  1. How do resist the devil? In what ways do you see him working in your life at the moment?
  2. In what area of your life do you find the need to submit to God?
  3. What is the difference between planning ahead and boasting about tomorrow?


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