In chapter 4 of his letter to the believers in Christ, James paints a picture that is not very pretty. It seems that people don't change. He wrote his letter in about A.D. 50 or 60 but he could have been writing to believers today. James describes people who were selfish, arrogant, and boastful. They were involved in quarrels and wars and wondered why. He describes a group of believers who were self-consumed. They would see something that they wanted and were unhappy that they couldn't get it. They would kill - with words and hate - and were greedy for things that were not theirs. James told them that they didn't have what they wanted because they didn't think of asking God and even when they did ask Him, it was with selfish motives - so they continually met with frustration. He called them adulterous people. They wanted their own way and desired worldly things over what was provided by God. They showed that their love for things was greater than their love of obedience to God.
James told them that if they would resist evil, it would flee from them. If they got near to God He would draw near to them. Drawing near to God would require cleansing - a purifying of their hearts. They needed to recognize and repent of their sin. " Grieve, mourn, and wail." Recognizing and admitting that they were going against the teaching of their Creator - their Father - should create heartfelt grief. True repentance that is needed for the purifying that James called for, required sincere sorrow. Instead of going along happily ignoring the gap between themselves and God, they were to admit it and mourn. God gives grace, for overcoming evil desires, to those who humble themselves.
Another byproduct of selfishness and pride was participating in condemnation of others. They were judging and criticizing and as a result were slandering and judging the royal Law to love their neighbors as themselves. The Lord God instituted the Law. God is the only Judge and He is the One who saves us from the penalty of breaking His Law.
James, then addressed those who made plans without considering God's will. He described a businessman who boasted of his plans to go out and make money - when the truth is that none of us knows what will happen tomorrow or how long we will be on this earth. Like the morning mist that disappears when the sun comes up, we will also disappear from this earth. We don't know when God will take us home or when Jesus will return. As Christians we are to live for His glory - not ours - until the day He comes.
As a parting word in chapter 4, James reminds us that we, who know the truth and have His Word are committing sin if we don't live accordingly.
- Do we envy and covet things and prestige that are not ours?
- Do we even pray for those things?
- Do we act as judge of others for the sin we see in their lives?
- Do we plan out our life without considering God's will for us?
"God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." James 4:6
(grace: God's abundant riches to the utterly undeserving - given at Christ's expense.)
See all articles from the Book of James.
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