Whose Lover Are You? – James 4:1-10


Where do the wars and where do the conflicts among you come from? Is it not from your passions that make war within your members? You covet but do not possess. You kill and envy but you cannot obtain; you fight and wage war. You do not possess because you do not ask. You ask but you do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. Adulterers! Do you not know that to be a lover of the world means enmity with God? Therefore, whoever wants to be a lover of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose that the scripture speaks without meaning when it says, “The Spirit He has made to dwell in us, tends toward jealousy” ? But He bestows a greater grace; therefore it says: “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” So submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you of two minds. Begin to lament, to mourn, to weep. Let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy into dejection. Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will exalt you. 

James continues his teaching, this time, addressing loving the world and it’s opposition to God.

He gives us quite a list of worldly attitudes; wars, conflicts, passions, covetousness, killing, envying and fighting. These attitudes or heart issues reveal themselves in personal action. Does this seem to be a recurring theme with James? You bet it does!    

Our lack of faith in the Gospel of Christ will determine our actions, the same as our our actions demonstrate our faith in the Gospel. Look at the list of worldly attitudes James gives, they can all be summed up in one word: selfishness. Could this be the reason there is such a harsh reprimand given here? Adulterers! Drawing on the Old Testament imagery of the Israelites worshiping idols and forsaking the covenant of the God of their Fathers, James tells us we can’t live this way and be a true Christian. The things of the world cannot exist within the people of God. A change needs to take place!

Reminding us that, at our rebirth through Baptism (John. 3:5) we are infused with the Divine nature. Therefore being new creations, he states “The Spirit He has made to dwell in us, tends toward jealousy”, and He bestows a greater grace to accomplish this.

By allowing God’s Spirit to work within us we submit ourselves to God. If we think to highly of ourselves, God will resist us; “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” When we submit to God (give Him the authority over our lives) several things happen. He bestows a greater grace because of our humility. With this greater grace we are also able to resist the devil, assured that when we do, he (the devil) will flee from us! How amazing is that grace!

Submitting to Him and receiving His grace also allow us to lament, to mourn, to weep over our sin keeping us in close fellowship with God. Choosing to let our laughter and  joy be turned into mourning and dejection has in mind the sacrifice of Jesus Himself. He temporaliary gave up His glory in heaven to suffer here on earth (Phil. 2:6-11) this also happens to be our calling through Christ (Phil. 1:29). If we humble ourselves in living out the Gospel, God will exalt us. Nothing pleases our Father more than giving honor to His faithful servants.

The recurring theme; it’s not just what you say, but what you say and do! Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you of two minds. Hands and hearts. One represents the outside, one the inside. They must work together, being a unity of body and spirit. A purified heart will present clean works, for what comes out of our hearts is made manifest in our deeds.

So this week, let us humble ourselves before God. Let us put away our selfish motives and the love of the world, and Draw near to God. Allowing once again our faith to be demonstrated by our works.

Amen.

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