In the study of James, by the time we reach chapter four, we have already received a long list of things to do to better our behaviour and our walk as followers of Christ. James is hard-hitting and he isn’t finished punching yet. What he pulls out at the start of chapter four is shocking. It is hard to believe it is Christians he is addressing.
The Body of Christ was quarreling, fighting, warring, lusting and murdering! Yes! Murdering for the things they were lusting after. They were living to please their flesh. They were influenced heavily by their culture.
James Teaches Godly Living
James had to teach guide them away from such living. During this time, society was sexually debased. Almost anything was acceptable, except for married women. It was common for single women to be promiscuous. It was also common, as well as encouraged, for men to practice pedophilia.
These ideas were carried into the church. But we will be merciful to the body, because if we stop to take a look at the church today, we will see we are also affected by our culture, and must constantly examine ourselves to keep from compromise.
The Early Church
Besides this, the church was still in infancy and James had to lay a framework or build a safe, lasting structure for the church to build around. This entire letter would have been a difficult one to pen. James held nothing back, he couldn’t afford to. In fact, I am quite certain the that church today would have looked entirely differently if he had been too easy on the body.
Look at the themes he teaches in chapter four:
- Friendship of the world equals hostility towards God.
- Whoever is friend of the world is an enemy of God.
- God is opposed to the proud and gives grace to the humble.
- Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
- Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.
- Be miserable and mourn and weep.
James tells us that the root cause of fights and quarrels between people is our lusting and coveting. He rightly criticizes us for this. Consider, also, why he tells us we don’t get what we pray for. One, we don’t ask. The church isn’t incorporating God into our lives. We don’t include Him in everything. Maybe, in part, this is because we don’t face God with everything because we know some of our requests, some of the things we want, are unholy.
We also don’t receive because we ask for things that are not good for us, we desire things that will, in the end, rot our flesh.
Friends of the World
There is another warning we must really take hold of today. Too many of us followers are so in love with the things the world has to offer, we try and be friends with the world. But James says friends of the world are actually enemies of God! This goes back to the old principle that we cannot serve two masters.
Carrying on along that note, while it is not wrong to carry a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day, pride will keep us from God. This pride not only comes along the lines of having hostility towards God, but by thinking we can live a Christian life apart from Him.
Weep Over Wickedness
James also tells us to mourn over sin and sinful nature. If your laughter and love for pleasure is keeping you from recognizing your sinful state, repent with deep sorrow. Live a changed life.
A Christian humbles themself before the Lord, recognizing their desperate need of God’s help and submits to His will for their life. The enjoyment of spiritual vitality and victory comes not through my independent efforts but through complete dependence on the Lord. If we try to exalt ourselves by relying on our own abilities or status of finances we are at risk of condemnation and spiritual failure.
James condemns those who leave God and His values out of their way of life. He exhorts businessmen to change their boastful attitudes. James also warns about the sin of omission or neglecting to do what is right.
If ever we must have self-reflection, it is after reading the book of James. Really contemplate in the coming days which relationships in your life cause the most pride in you and how you can apply the instruction of James to combat pride.
Written by Jori Sams
Jori Sams is a Christian author and freelance writer with nearly 2000 published pieces on the Internet, with over 1500 being published by Yahoo. Her books are published through Writeious Books. When she isn’t writing, you can usually find her following the sun…