I was reading in my morning devotionals this morning about how James is telling us about how we are to be treating each other in the body of Christ and if we are not doing so then we are acting like the law and the world around us. When reading James 4, I have come to see that I am not doing or following what James is saying and that I have fallen into the worldly trap of following after the law and not following Christ. That I am being self-centered in my thinking and that I am not better off than those that persecuted Stephen back in Christ’s time.
Read what James 4:1-17 has to say in the ESV version:
James 4:1 What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? 2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. 4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5 Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? 6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” 7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. 11 Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. 12 There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor? 13 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”— 14 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. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. 17 So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.
This should not only be shocking to us but also should stop and make us think and re-evaluate our own lives. It has done so for me. What about you? Have you fallen into the trap of becoming self-centered or are you following what James is saying to do in chapter 4 here?
The following is my devotion for today: this is taken from Phil Ware’s ‘A Year with Jesus’ a newsletter that I get every day about walking closer to Jesus. It is titled ‘Humbly Yield Control’:
Yesterday I talked to you about letting the Spirit lead the dance of your life. Today, I want you to notice what happens when a person takes the lead of his or her own life — when a person’s “constant pursuit of gratification” and continual “focus on self-indulgence” have control of his or her heart:
- Prayers go unanswered.
- Envy and jealously control life in ways similar to an out-of-control addiction.
- Pride and arrogance rule over a person’s heart.
- Overbearing criticism shows up in most conversations.
- Accusations are made against good people.
- A sense of control of one’s destiny makes a person oblivious to the fragility of his or her own life.
- Good things that need to be done go undone and neglected.
Just as Paul emphasized in the verses yesterday, James reminds you today with strong words that you must consciously and humbly offer yourself to the Father. Don’t be afraid to be physically demonstrative with your humble repentance. Not only ask for His forgiveness, but also offer Him control over your heart and your life. Offer your whole self to the Father — heart, soul, mind, and strength — to be used as His person and controlled by His Spirit.
Rid your heart of the evil influences that poison it and make it inhospitable to the Holy Spirit. I sent the Holy Spirit to live in your heart. The Spirit wants to bring God’s character, compassion, and blessing to life in you. So resist the power of evil, Satan, and the demonic world. Drive the evil one away and invite the Holy Spirit to take control!
Verses to Live
In the verses below, James uses his typical straightforward style to challenge his readers to look at their hearts. He wants you to be aware of what motivates your heart. He warns of all sorts of ways pride and arrogance sneak in and steal a person’s heart back from God. So offer yourselves to God… in humility.
Where do you think your fighting and endless conflict come from? Don’t you think that they originate in the constant pursuit of gratification that rages inside each of you like an uncontrolled militia? You crave something that you do not possess, so you murder to get it. You desire the things you cannot earn, so you sue others and fight for what you want. You do not have because you have chosen not to ask. And when you do ask, you still do not get what you want because your motives are all wrong — because you continually focus on self-indulgence. You are adulterers. Don’t you know that making friends with this corrupt world order is open aggression toward God? So anyone who aligns with this bogus world system is declaring war against the one true God. Do you think it is empty rhetoric when the Scriptures say, “The spirit that lives in us is addicted to envy and jealousy”? You may think that the situation is hopeless, but God gives us more grace when we turn away from our own interests. That’s why Scripture says,
God opposes the proud,
but He pours out grace on the humble.
So submit yourselves to the one true God and fight against the devil and his schemes. If you do, he will run away in failure. Come close to the one true God, and He will draw close to you. Wash your hands; you have dirtied them in sin. Cleanse your heart, because your mind is split down the middle, your love for God on one side and selfish pursuits on the other.
Now is the time to lament, to grieve, and to cry. Dissolve your laughter into sobbing, and exchange your joy for depression. Lay yourself bare, facedown to the ground, in humility before the Lord; and He will lift your head so you can stand tall. My brothers and sisters, do not assault each other with criticism. If you decide your job is to accuse and judge another believer, then you are a self-appointed critic and judge of the law; if so, then you are no longer a doer of the law and subject to its rule; you stand over it as a judge. Know this — there is One who stands supreme as Judge and Lawgiver. He alone is able to save and to destroy, so who are you to step in and try to judge another?
Listen carefully, those of you who make your plans and say, “We are traveling to this city in the next few days. We’ll stay there for one year while our business explodes and revenue is up.” The reality is you have no idea where your life will take you tomorrow. You are like a mist that appears one moment and then vanishes another. It would be best to say, “If it is the Lord’s will and we live long enough, we hope to do this project or pursue that dream.” But your current speech indicates an arrogance that does not acknowledge the One who controls the universe, and this kind of big talking is the epitome of evil. So if you know the right way to live and ignore it, it is sin — plain and simple.
This has been an eye opener for me, and has made me stop and review about what I have done and how I have thought. I wonder if any of you had felt this way as well. Are we humbly relinquishing our control to God or are we just living in the law of the world? This sure slapped me in the face this morning. Has it done the same to you? It’s an interesting question and one that we need to answer. To make sure that we are not living as the world wants us to. After having read this devotional this morning I have come to realize that I may have been doing just that and that I need to change the way that I view things and others around me.
So I AM going to do this and I would rather follow Jesus than the world how about you? It can be either a terrifying experience or a life changing one at that. I prefer it to be a life changing one that the Spirit is leading and telling me that I need to change this part of my life and work to be more Christ-like.
Care to join me?