12/24/2016

MY WAY Will Not Work (James 4:7-12)

Notice the verbs in James 4:7-10. "Submit," "resist," "come," "wash," "purify," "grieve," "mourn," "wail," "change," and "humble yourselves." These verbs suggest that "I did it my way" or "my way or the highway" is NOT a wise way to live. It is certainly not the way to live under the blessing of God.
  1. Horrible Days (1:1-4). The Way to Maturity and Wholeness.
  2. How to Know What's Going On (1:5-12). A Prayer that God is Always Happy to Answer.
  3. When Trials Become Temptations (1:13-21). God Never Tempts Anyone.
  4. Self-Deceived Christians (1:22-27). When Reading and Studying the Bible Makes You Worse.
  5. Showing Favoritism (2:1-13). Trust God rather than show favoritism toward influential people.
  6. True Faith and Loving Deeds (2:14-26). Loving others--amid our own difficulties and trials--always accompanies true faith.
  7. Lashing Out Verbally at Others (3:1-12). If you think you have to teach others, it's better to shut up!
  8. The Wise and the Selfishly Ambitious (3:13-18). You can't be wise if you are selfishly motivated.
  9. Infighting in the Church (4:1-6). Being upset with others may not be the fault of others.
The first sin in God's universe was someone saying to God, "Not your will, but mine!" (Genesis 3; Isa 14:12-14; Eze 28:11-17) The rebellion against God says, "Do what you want, not what God wants. God is holding back something good from you, something that will make you feel real good and make you smart and wise. But God doesn't want you to have it. So you got to go and get it for yourself. Don't let God decide what's good for you. You decide, which you can and should do." In the Garden of Eden when Eve agreed to this, Adam agreed too. They both set themselves against God, becoming enemies of God. So God had no choice but to cast them out of Eden, which was paradise. This rebellion against God continues to this very day in many forms depending on the vastly different circumstances of our lives. But they all basically say, "God is NOT going to give me want I want."
  • God is not going to give me the kind of comfortable retirement that I want. I gotta worry about making a lot more money for my retirement years. Cut a few corners. Bend a few rules. Just don't get caught.
  • God (or he/her) is not letting me be honored and recognized as I should. So I gotta craftily bad mouth certain people to make them look bad, so that I will look good.
  • God is not going to give me the marriage that I want. My spouse has major issues. I need a change.
  • There are no one in church who is cool and cute and funny for me to date. I have to expand my horizons, lower my standards a little (but not make it obvious) in order to find "the one" for me.
  • Why be devoted and dedicated to God and to the church if God is not giving me what I want?
Such is the voice of Satan. Yet God still woos us jealously, asking us to trust him and He stands ready to bless us if we will humble ourselves before him (Jas 4:4-6).

The world's way of coping with trials is to lash out against others, fight and quarrel with others because they are the ones aggravating my difficulties, and basically demand that others act the way I expect them to act.

In contrast to the world's way of reacting, James appeals to Christians to submit to what God is doing in our lives (Jas 1:2-4; 4:7-12), to accept that things will be difficult for a while, and to not try to teach others in our frustration to conform to our expectation (Jas 3:1-2).

Jas 4:7a, 10 are parallel statements: submit, humble yourself. The verses in between describe what this humble submitting looks like as far as God is concerned (Jas 4:7b-9), and the verses which follow describe what it looks like as far as others in the church are concerned (Jas 4:10-12).

To humbly submit to God means first to resist the devil, who always insinuates that God is not being good to you and is withholding something from you. When we resist the devil we affirm Rom 8:28 and Jas 1:17. In this way we come near to God (Jas 4:8a) even when a trial is unbearable. When we do Satan flees from us (Jas 4:7b), because our humble submission to God is a grave threat to him and his evil kingdom. C.S. Lewis has Screwtape, a senior demon explain to his mentee Wormwood:

"Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our Enemy's will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys."

To submit humbly means to wash our hands of sin and purify our hearts and cease being double-minded about whether God is in our trials for our good (Jas 4:8b; 1:6-7, 14-15, 21). In our submission we may grieve and mourn for the heaviness of our trials, our failures and our lapses during them (Jas 1:9). Our circumstances may not elicit laughter and joy. But our conviction is secure and unshakable: The Lord is good. He will eventually lift us up (Jas 1:10).

Humbly submitting to God enables us to become gentle and kind toward others. We do not slander or judge others for how their actions and words adversely affect us (Jas 1:11-12). That violates the law of love. Instead of advesarial words and actions we become peace-loving, considerate, submissive and full of mercy (Jas 3:17). In this way we avoid being pulluted by the world's way of responding to trials by blaming others (Jas 1:27; 2:8-13; 3:1-4:10).

When we submit to God, we know that MY WAY is not the way. Instead, we learn from the Son: "Not my will, but yours be done" (Lk 22:42).