James 4 — Warning Against Worldliness, Boasting About Tomorrow
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One Reply to “Nov 8 — James 4”
James addresses the timeless problem of selfish desires, envy, covetousness. I suggest it’s timeless because it started in the Garden of Eden and quickly moved to Cain and Abel, then Jacob and Esau and today fuels the fire for advertisements and direct marketing. “You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight” (James 1:2a). Hopefully we don’t resort to murder over our worldly desires, but I’m sure many quarrels have begun by not getting what we want. It all boils down to self-centeredness. “You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives” (4:2b-3a). Lord help me to seek you in all that I ask for. Help me to be content, truly content, with what I do have and appreciate how you have provided for me all these years. Beyond that appreciation, Lord, help me to do something that would further your kingdom here on earth…for as many people as possible to come into a full relationship with Christ!
James continues the thought by addressing our boastful plans, even though “you do not even know what will happen tomorrow” (4:14). This is such an easy trap to fall into! It’s great to spend countless hours fantasizing about what could be, what ifs that are all centered on rewarding myself. But this is just a scheme of Satan, meant to distract and destroy us. These are the “desires that battle within [us]” (4:1).
James provides a recipe for getting ourselves right before God (4:7-10):
– Submit yourselves to God
– Wash your hands
– Purify your hearts
– Grieve, mourn and wail
– Humble yourselves
And the result: “he will lift you up” (4:10). We must be completely broken before the Lord before he can do his work within our lives. All pride and worldly desire must be left behind with complete confidence that God will do as he has promised. Jesus’ famous Sermon on the Mount included these words: Blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are those who mourn, blessed are the meek–theirs is the kingdom of heaven, they will be comforted, they will inherit the earth. (Matthew 5:3-5). Lord help me to full submit to you every day in complete confidence you will lift me up!
Admittedly, I had a tough time understanding this verse: “Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us?” (4:5). Not the concept, but really just trying to get the words right. Ultimately, I looked at a few other translations for help and the NIRV provided an excellent source:
“Don’t you know what Scripture says?
The spirit that God caused to live in us wants us to belong only to God.
Don’t you think Scripture has a reason for saying that?”
(James 4:5, NIRV).
I believe this captures the point James is trying to make, especially when we step back and look at the text before and after verse 5. Lord dwell in me! Help me to read and hear your voice in Scripture, to understand you are jealously longing to have a relationship with each and every one of us! Praise be to our one true God!