James 4:1-10 – Enemies of God

snake slithering up a tree

Read James 4:1-10

We need God. It’s plain and simple, lest we fall into the traps set in this world and become enemies of God. Only God can transform us from the thrill seeking, self-serving, humans we are by nature into humble servants dedicated to pleasing God.

James’ counsel here is a bit over the top when he talks about our envious desires leading us to killing someone. It appears his audience needs the “wow factor” to get their attention. I can just hear someone saying, “God doesn’t listen because he didn’t give me what I wanted.” That’s a great example of having the wrong motives. God knows our heart. He knows why we ask for what we do. Is what we’re asking for merely for our own pleasure?

James emphasized the tendency we easily fall into. “I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God.” What does it mean to be a “friend of the world?” Believing lies we hear in the world, in the press, in pop culture, in movies and other forms of entertainment. We are even drawn to follow movie stars and sports figures because they impress us in some way. Shouldn’t our go-to be God’s word and listening for the Holy Spirit to speak to our hearts?

James doesn’t leave us stranded in God’s enemy camp. He tells us exactly how we can avoid it all together. “So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” I’ll always remember verse 7 as my son’s confirmation verse. That was a powerful lesson for me that my teenage son would choose such a verse to help him combat the temptations of the world. Satan has been allowed by God to have access to us. James reminds us we don’t have to respond by giving in to those temptations.

James’ expectation is that humbling ourselves before God is a process. It’s sounds easier than it really is. Many times we are stuck in our ways or afraid of what our friends and neighbors will think as we start down the road of humility. Do we care more about what the world thinks of us or what God thinks of us?

When you look back over your life, what do you see? Are there some things you’ve done that you’re not proud of? Me, too. We have all stumbled and embarrassed ourselves before God and his grand intention for our lives. James doesn’t want us to bury those experiences but to learn from them. Some of our failings may be incredibly painful.

That’s why James says this. “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.” James knew that God does not want us to be stuck in our sin, but we do need to acknowledge it and learn from it. “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.”

The battle continues between good and evil. Take some time to reflect on your own situation. Have you ever felt like an enemy of God because of your life choices? Do you struggle with understanding how to humble yourself before God? Humility is the surrender to God’s provision in your life so you can share the gifts he gives you to help others.

colorful animation of prayer hands and hearts and flowers

Let’s pray. Father, I know I have fallen short time and time again. Forgive me for those times when I have fallen for the lies of the world. They often sound so appealing. Help me to focus on you and your goodness. Help me let go of any prideful ambition but trust in your provision. I want to stand on the truth of your word. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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