For the people of Good Shepherd Church and in support of our current series “The Fine Art Of Belly-Aching,” we’re reading through the book of James this week. Each morning, I’m devoting this space to reading prompts.
Today, James 4
Whew! James 4! We could spend a week just on these verses.
Again, James has introduced an idea in James 1:9 – humility before God and others – that he deals with in depth later in the book. This is very much the pattern of James and the section we know as chapter 4 elaborates what was introduced in chapter One, verse Nine.
As you read, notice that James begins this section with a reminder that the majority of our bickering within the church stems from our greed. Greed for attention, status, and possessions. Then in 4:4, he utters these startling words: “don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity with God?” What? I thought God “so loved the world”? Aren’t we to do the same? Here’s what it means: God DOES love the world in John 3:16 – all the people in it. Every last one of them. What God does not love – and what we’re not to love, either – is the values that the world embraces. Whether it’s Hollywood, Wall Street, Washington, or the ivory towers of the Ivy League, the world has set itself up in defiance against God. We are to side with God in that contest … living “in” the world but recognizing, as Philippians 3:20 says, that our citizenship is in heaven.
In James 4:7-10, count up all the commands. Submit, resist, come near and so forth. Savor those commands. They are not punishment. They are for your good.
Finally, in 4:15 James tells us that we are “a mist.” One of the young adults in my LifeGroup rather brilliantly reminded our group that this means we are both liquid and solid. And one day, in the next day, we will be 100% solid. In the meantime, we live in a state of continual dependence on God, recognizing that he is both author and finisher of life and of death. How can we boast in the face of that?