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James 4: A Reflection

Ruby is a freelance writer from the Philippines. Besides writing, she enjoys gardening and studying the Scripture.

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How to draw closer to God

"4 What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? 2 You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. 3 And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.

4 You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God. 5 Do you think the Scriptures have no meaning? They say that God is passionate and that the spirit he has placed within us should be faithful to him. 6 And he gives grace generously. As the Scriptures say,

“God opposes the proud
but gives grace to the humble.”

7 So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty, is divided between God and the world. 9 Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor" (James 4:1-12, NLT).

In verse 1, Apostle James begins with a question. He brings to our attention what often causes bickering among Christians. Then he answers that question by saying that the main cause of these bickerings among Christians is--ungodly desires within. These desires stem out of jealousy of others--for example, seeing possessions that others have that we also want but couldn't have. Then in verse 3, he moves on to say that, we don't get these things that we want all because we don't actually ask of them from God. And when we ask, often we also don't receive or get what we want because when we ask, for them we ask with the wrong motive and that is--centered on self, our own personal pleasure. Thus, the Lord never grants what we ask for.

Another point James talks about is being a friend to God and an enemy to the world. We can't both love this world and the things in it and at the same time claim to love God because these two are opposing forces. We can only have one of them. And if we are truly serious about loving God and drawing closer to Him, then we must put away worldly things in our lives.

Thus, in this passage Apostle James is saying that if we are really serious about drawing ourselves to God, First we need to put away all our evil desires. Second, we must not love the things of this world. Finally, we need to humble ourselves before the Lord and let him rule our lives.

Reminder not to judge others

"11 Don’t speak evil against each other, dear brothers and sisters. If you criticize and judge each other, then you are criticizing and judging God’s law. But your job is to obey the law, not to judge whether it applies to you. 12 God alone, who gave the law, is the Judge. He alone has the power to save or to destroy. So what right do you have to judge your neighbor?" (James 4:11-12, NLT).

In these verses, Apostle James talks about important things--common things that people do, even Christians. First, he reminds us never to say bad things about others. He reminds us never to criticize our fellowmen since if we do criticize, he is saying that we are criticizing God's law. Second, Apostle James specifically states about judging others. He says that judging others is not ours to do. Judging is God's work, never ours. Thus, we do not have the right to judge people. We simply live that work to God for He alone is our Judge.

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Caution about self-confidence

"13 Look here, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.” 14 How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. 15 What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.” 16 Otherwise you are boasting about your own pretentious plans, and all such boasting is evil.

17 Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it" (James 4:13-17, NLT).

In this passage, James speaks about too much confidence in ourselves. Relying on something that is still coming and what we do not yet know. He reminds us that tomorrow is not for us to boast about. because we do not actually know what will happen on that tomorrow yet. We ought to trust our lives on God and God alone and never on our own. We need to be always conscious of this, that the future--our future belongs to God.

Another vital thing Apostle James mentions here is, Knowing something to be right and not doing it, is a sin to God. This is something fearful. Because sometimes we maybe thinking that we are doing all right when we are not actually doing it simply because we have ignored such a thing.

© 2022 Ruby Campos

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