Select one or two aspects of Jesus’ identity and character; reflect on them and prepare to meet him today.
Read James 4:1–12
What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 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. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
4 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. 5 Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us? 6 But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:
“God opposes the proud
but shows favor to the humble.”
7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 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 neighbor?
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectHow competitive are you? What drives you?
In James 1:12–18 we saw that wisdom means having a realistic view of what lies in our hearts. James uses the analogy of war to again look at the battle of desires that rage inside of us (4:1b,2): the strong-willed determination in us all to have our own way. Life becomes a competition when we give ourselves over to these desires, whether they be for money, power or possessions. We inevitably clash with others. James is stark in his condemnation: “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God?” (4).
The solution is clear (7): aware of our fallen nature, and the drives within ourselves, we are to ask for God’s help. Remember Jesus’ words in Luke 9:24: “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.” It’s in giving ourselves up that we find our true selves. Look within and in the long run you will find only weakness; but look to Christ and you will find his life and his peace—all you need and more!
Submitting to God also involves a decision to stop judging your Christian brothers and sisters (11), because true biblical wisdom leads to harmonious rather than competitive relationships with others.
Are you finding yourself clashing with someone in your family, work or church? How can you extend God’s grace to them today?
Bring this relationship to God and ask him to help you to understand your motivations and find a way to improved relations.
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