Archive for October 9th, 2010

James 4

James 4 is filled with so many things to consider.  A short 17 verses but packed with things that give us direction on how we need to live.  Let’s take a look at a few key teachings he gives us.  He begins by telling us what is wrong at the core: “your passions are at war within you”.  We are messed up on the inside.  We focus on the wrong things:

      You desire and do not have

      You covet and cannot obtain

      You do not have because you do not ask

      You ask and do not receive because you ask wrongly to spend it on your passions

Our issue is that we are focused on ourselves.  It is all about me and what I need and want and will get.  Me, me, me.  We have our eyes on the wrong things.  God wants us to be focused on Him and what He cares about.  Listen closely to these words: “do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God”?  If we want to be focused on the stuff of this world, we are missing the boat completely with God. He is not about stuff.  He is about life and people and eternity and souls.  He is not worried about the details of our money or houses or cars.  He cares about people.


James goes on to remind us that “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble”.  Want to get in good with God – learn humility.  He is giving us the formula for success.  Humility means we put ourselves in our right place in relationship to God and the world around us.  It is realizing that the world does not revolve around us at all, and in fact, we are a mere spec on the world we live it.  James gives a very straight list of things we need to do here:

      Submit yourselves to God

      Resist the devil

      Draw near to God

      Cleanse your hands

      Purify your hearts

      Be wretched and mourn and weep

      Humble yourselves

      Do not speak evil

  See any common thread here?  It is putting God and others first and above us.  It is not thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought, as Paul puts it in another place in scripture.  We have to learn to be humble.


James also reminds us of our fragileness: “Come now, you who say, Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes….you ought to say, If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that”.  There are no guarantees about tomorrow.  In fact, we have no idea what the future holds.  But we do know who holds the future.  God alone is in control my friends.  He alone knows what tomorrow will bring.  We need to recognize His authority and His majesty and know that we are in His hands.


James ends this chapter with a chilling verse that should haunt each of us.  So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin”.  We often want to define sin as things we do that are wrong.  James gives us the other side of the coin here.  What we fail to do that we know we should be doing is also sin.  Did you catch what he said?  Missing the mark and committing sin is not only what we do we shouldn’t (sins of commission) but also includes things we know we are to do but don’t (sins of omission).  And sin is sin is sin no matter which kind it is.  Hard to equate a murder with failing to care for a widow isn’t it?  But God tells us plainly to care for widows and orphans many times in scripture.  When we have those directions and ignore them – we sin.  We need to seek God’s direction and listen carefully to what He is telling each of us to do.  Being a Christ Follower demands obedience and action.  Failing to do so is sin!

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