28 February 2018

James 4
Psalm 18

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us? But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:

“God opposes the proud
    but shows favor to the humble.”

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 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.

11 Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them 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 neighbour?

James 4:1-12

Still on the subject of “asking”, today’s reading urges us to “come near to God and he will come near to us”.

And this is in the context of quarrelling and fighting in the church.

In a suburban church setting there no doubt are many things that we do have – we generally are so much better off materially than many churches in the townships are. And we thank God for His kindness and generosity.

Yet, there is much that we lack – even in our relatively wealthy church.

Not least, we lack humility – we are proud, selfish, self-centred. We think so highly of ourselves. We say and think that we are better than others who perhaps may not have the privilege of a good home and family. Or others who don’t have the level of education that we have or the jobs and careers that we have.

But there is the solemn caution in this passage (vs 6) that God opposes the proud (Proverbs 3:34).

That is strong language right there, because it implies that you are an enemy of God.

Dear brothers and sisters in the Lord, as we acknowledge our pride before God Almighty, this word then becomes an amazing word of grace to us.

Today let’s allow this reading to inform our prayer.

Today let’s turn this reading into a prayer.

A prayer unlike the prayer that is described in verse 3.

A prayer that must obviously begin with confession of this lack of humility which always leads to fighting and quarrelling.

And a prayer that continues in the line of verse 7.

A prayer that we are assured of will result in us “being lifted up” as we humble ourselves.

Grow deep…love deep!