We move this week into the fourth chapter of James. We will spend the next two weeks in this book before moving into Advent. There is much to cover; we are moving fairly fast. Yet a common theme runs through the fourth chapter. James is calling us toward a posture of dependence on God’s leading.
The early church is caught up in fights and conflict. Everyone is striving for his own way. This dynamic is not uncommon in our world. We are taught to look out for our own interests, to fight for what we want, to seek our desires in life. Yet James describes another way of functioning. James tells us,
(James 4:7–9 ESV) “Submit yourselves therefore 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 double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep.”
We are told to “grab the world by the tail” as we endeavor to curb reality to fit our wants. But James calls us to submit; we relinquish our desires and allow God to form His desire in us. Last week, we discussed the wisdom of this world in contrast to the wisdom of God. We are often tricked by earthly pulls. But James challenges us to push back worldly wisdom and give ourselves to God’s plan for us. This involves a shedding of ourselves. James says,
(James 4:10 ESV) “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.”
Which one is it going to be? Are we going to live in arrogant selfishness or liberating submission? James continues to reform our language as we speak of business plans.
(James 4:13 ESV) “Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit””
What is wrong with planning to carry out business? Should we not lay out our intentions? Instead, we should speak in ways that entrust our plans to God.
(James 4:14–16 ESV) “What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance.”
This chapter is about allowing God to take the lead role in our life. When we are willing to allow God to drive our lives, we live in a new posture. Our days become flexible as God leads. We are not in combat, struggling for what we want. We are free to rest in God’s provision and guidance. Join us on Sunday as we explore James 4 together.