In his epistle to Jewish Christians of the first century, the apostle James addressed wars and strife among the world and the church.
Wars within ourselves as we battle temptation and give in to sin. Wars with each other as we allow jealousy, envy and judgment to steer us from the narrow path. Wars against God, certain defeat as we disobey the Lord’s commands and befriend the world.
“1 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” (James 4:1-3)
In these verses James points out that our own desires are at the root of strife among believers, conflicts between our own will deep rooted within us and God’s will that stems from the Holy Spirit.
God has every intention to answer our prayers however, He will not grant us wishes that are contradictory to His will, to His word.
“4 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. 5 Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely? 6 But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:4-6)
In these verses James reiterates the fact pride leads to destruction, to war within ourselves, with each other and war against God. Those who willingly distance themselves from the world will be rewarded with more of God’s grace as we continue to abide by the word and live according to His ways.
“7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” (James 4:7-9)
James clearly establishes a method by which we are made righteous. First by discarding pride and submitting to God, surrendering control and relying on His almighty strength. Second we are to resist temptation and avoid sin. Doing so will draw evil out of our hearts and allow us to draw closer to God.
In the verses above, James calls on his readers to grieve, mourn and wail in regards to sin committed against God, against Jesus Christ. James writes there is nothing funny or joyful about sin.
“11 Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. 12 There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?”
By slander James means no believer should be involved in a the act or offense of saying something false or malicious that damages somebody’s reputation. James also mentions the law which is the law of God, the law of love, not the laws of men. We are to be doers of the law, not judges of it.
“13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil.” (James 4:13-16)
The problem with most people today is not planning, it is leaving God out of our plans. While there can be significant earthly rewards in planning, there are surely great heavenly rewards associated with the willingness to abide by God;s plan for our lives.
This is why we should humble ourselves and include “God willing…” in our plans, in our prayers.
“17 Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.” (James 4:17) ”
As we continue to walk in Jesus’ footsteps, we are commanded to live according to the very last verse of chapter 4, knowing right from wrong and doing what is right, storing up treasures in heaven, glorifying God in everything we do or say, or befriend.
I invite you to apply this chapter to your life in the days and weeks ahead, humbling yourself before God, and allowing the Holy Spirit to strengthen you when tempted by evil. I am hopeful this message will inspire you to pray for God’s will in your life, and that you will include God in your plans. Let’s pray.
We thank you for all your precious gifts and your blessings in our lives
And ask you to strengthen us and allow us to overcome temptation,
We ask you Lord to shine your light bright upon all your children
As we struggle with the world and all that is in it.
We pray that you’ll reach out to those who are at war with you
Through disobedience in your commands,
We ask you father to bless them with heavenly wisdom
As they submit themselves to your almighty power, to your love.
God we thank you for looking after us, our families and friends
And for answering the prayers of those who seek you,
As we plan our lives according to your will
And for patiently allow you to guide our footsteps each and every day.
God we love you and thank you for all that surrounds us!
This message was written by Daniel St.Pierre