Living Out Loud: James Chapter 4
Have you become too comfortable with the world? Maybe you have surrounded yourself with those headed down a path of destruction. Perhaps you have tiptoed over the line of agreement with the world. Let’s explore what James 4 says about why we are struggling with strife, the dangers of becoming friends with the world, and directions for our future planning.
The Reasons For Internal Strife (James 4:1-3)
In the Church, a family of God’s children, there is abundant disagreement, bickering, and arguing. Maybe you don’t notice it, but the truth is, anytime two or three people are gathered somewhere, there will be drama!
So, why do we have internal strife?
Desires For Pleasure (vs. 1)
It comes down to someone seeking their own pleasure. War and arguments come because we are imperfect people longing to have our own names elevated! However, as believers of Jesus Christ, we shouldn’t be in discipleship for our own pleasure but for the kingdom of God. We need to go back to the basics and remind ourselves that it is not about us, our wishes, our plans, our future, or our desire to be discovered. It is always about the pleasure of God.
You Lust and Do Not Have (vs. 2)
Because we are born of flesh, and into a world of sin, we naturally have a bent towards a strong desire for something that often will driveus to push others out and down. We consider ourselves, needs, and wants before those of the person before us. Then, we reject them and their desires, giving no second thought to their reputations or circumstances. Why? Simply because we have taken matters into our own hands. We do not ask the One who sits on the throne because we have neglected our prayer life.
You Don’t Know How to Pray (vs. 2)
We must be prayer warriors and learn to take our burdens to the Lord! The first step to becoming a prayer warrior is to pray! We must stop fighting and wrestling with people and learn how to pray about whatever it is we need.
You Ask Amiss (vs. 3)
Amiss is another word for evil.
Often it comes undetected, and other times it is blatant, especially when our motives and intentions are not in the right place. Furthermore, we struggle with internal strife because our lusts are not fulfilled. What is interesting is that James starts in verse 1 talking about pleasures and ends verse 3 talking about pleasures.
It’s a challenge for mankind to grapple with the fact that life is not about pleasing us. The resistance comes when we step into pleasing the kingdom of God. I spend a lot of time counseling those in marital struggles and situations. The challenge for me is hearing couples share where they think it is all about them! When you get married, it is supposed to be about serving your spouse; yet many people believe it is about their happiness and the pursuit of their happiness.
Maybe God isn’t answering your prayers because you are praying things that are all about you when it is really about pursuing God. Take inventory of what you are bringing before God.
The Dangers of Being Friends With the World (James 4:4-10)
Being a friend to the world is being accepted and loved by the world and adopting their patterns, fads, and practices.
Enemy of God (vs. 4)
When you become a friend of the world, you have put yourself in a posture of becoming an enemy of God! I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be God’s enemy. I need the Lord! I need him to fight my battles, open doors for me, and respond to my prayers. The scriptures warn that when you are doing everything you can to be accepted by, fit in, and be loved by the world; you’re putting yourself in a position of being the enemy of God. James 4:4 gives us the clarity that we aren’t created to be friends with the world!
When I was in high school, I didn’t realize it then, but my school mates never invited me to their parties. It was painful as a young kid, but now I can look back with pride that I didn’t conform to their agendas of underage smoking, drinking, and foul language. Thank God that He put something in me that made me realize that I’m not supposed to fit in with everyone! Can I encourage you to reflect on your life? Maybe your life isn’t going anywhere because you’re too conformed to the world.
I think about young folks who go to clubs, watch and listen to secular media, yet, they can’t quote more than two scriptures. There is more to life than this.
We Serve a Jealous God (vs. 5)
The Holy Spirit, who dwells in us, desires to spend time with and engage in deep relationships with us. He is jealous because you have devoted your time and energy to the world and left nothing for the Lord. God gives us a choice, but we must know He is longing to have our heart and thought life, one that is not shared with the world.
God Resists the Proud (vs. 6)
When you are arrogant and don’t think you need the Lord or His power, God resists you.He resists giving you favor, opening doors, and answering prayers. What a beautiful, miraculous gift it is to have God answer prayers even before I ask him! While we can try to work things out in our own strength, it will only leave us winded and running in circles. We need to know He is working on our behalf before we ask. He is laying down paths and working miracles. This is the kind of God we serve and what He wants us to have. Humility cures worldliness. When you humble yourself before God, and you see his grace, answered prayers, and goodness, it will give you a desire to walk away from the world in pursuit of God.
Resist the Devil (vs.7)
What area of your life have you not submitted to God? God’s word tells us that when we resist the devil, he will flee. The devil can’t make you do anything; he is hanging out because you are giving him room. So how do you resist the devil? Stop listening to and entertaining the suggestions he is placing in your mind and over your circumstances.
Pride in Sin (vs. 8-9)
God is always near; however, He is never forceful. Therefore, when you step toward God, He will make a step towards you! I implore you to stop touching things you have no business touching. How? Reach out to God; He will help and empower you! He will create pathways to help you get in the proper heart posture. In addition to seeking God’s heart, we must lament, mourn, and weep. Many of us celebrate the sin we have practiced by posting on social media, documenting where we went and with whom. The world celebrates their sin. They march and vote to have a right to their sin, yet, they are dishonoring and turning their backs on God.
Let us turn our eyes back to God and lament, cry, and moan that we have rejected the standards of God. Because one day, we will all stand before God and account for what we have done.
God Humbles the Arrogant (vs. 10)
We don’t have enough humility in the world today. But we have too many arrogant people who think they are okay just where they are. Humility says we need Jesus in our lives. Arrogance says we don’t need the Lord. I had a federal government job where God flipped the supernatural switch during my time there. You see, I was a servant to my boss, and then out of nowhere, I because the boss of my previous supervisor. We must remember to humble ourselves because, without God, we are nothing. Therefore, when we seek Him, the last become first, and the first become last. Remember, with Him, we don’t have to promote ourselves; He will open the door for us. So walk in humility and watch God do the supernatural on your behalf.
A Warning Against Judging Others (James 4:11-12)
Don’t Judge People (vs. 11)
I feel a spirit of conviction over the body of Christ because we all are guilty of judgment! Judgment is when we make a decision about someone without investigating the facts. Instead, we conclude based on what we think we see or know. This is not the way of the Lord. So let us stop being a judge over other people’s lives.
One Lawgiver Who Saves and Destroys (vs. 12)
Verse 12 is essentially asking, “Who made you in charge to judge what someone else does?” Many people criticize and judge others as though they are God. The reality is, you aren’t God! God alone is the judge and authority of all. He is the one lawgiver. Church, heed this warning and obey the word of the Lord.
Directions Regarding Future Planning (James 4:13-17)
When you’re young, you can’t wait to get older.
James 4:14, NKJV says, “Whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.”
I remember I couldn’t wait to turn sixteen so that I could drive. Now I am sixty-three, and I can’t wait for someone else to drive! I look back now and see that life goes by so fast! It’s a vapor! Verse 15-16 continues, saying that we speak out of arrogance when we make plans. So instead of making plans, let us say what we hope to do. I don’t know what your future holds, but if your life were to end today, are you ready? One of the saddest days of my life was when one of the men we helped raise and a close friend of my son’s, was on his way to work on his motorcycle and ran into a bus. In a few short days, his life was over. Seeing him in thatstate as his family and my kids stood around his bedside was painful. It was truly one of the saddest days of my life and reminded me that tomorrow is not promised.
So are you ready?
Be careful not to boast, telling yourself that you will get saved next week or repent later. Because all you have is this moment right now; say yes to God right now.
“Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is a sin.”
James 4:17, NKJV
Many of you know that you have to get right with God, but you are holding off. You know you need to repent, but you don’t do it. Verse 17 warns us that God considers it a sin when we know we should do something and don’t do it. Brothers and sisters, get right with God while the blood is still warm in your veins and your limbs are still working. Whether you have never repented of your sins or walked away for a season, now is the perfect time to make things right.
Come get right with God.
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