James 4:1-12 – Wrong Motives

Read James 4:1-12

“Looking for love in all the wrong places.” I don’t know why that lyric came to mind from a song I heard many years ago. I’ll lead with that today. Wrong motives keep us stuck, too. God is the true source of love, we need to be looking to him, submitting to his will for us!

I liked the wisdom of this passage that points the  finger back at us. What causes quarrels, disagreements, misunderstandings? We do, and our wrong motives. We are so often being led around by our selfish desires that we get stuck in a cycle of hurt. Hurt to ourselves and hurt to others.

Do we want it that way? Probably not, but we seem to be stuck just the same. How many times have you been in a friend’s home, looked around and saw something you wished you had? Maybe it was a physical thing, maybe it was how neat and organized everything appeared, or maybe it was just the vibe of contentment you sensed. Whatever the case, you wanted something you hadn’t yet attained. The Bible calls that coveting, and it’s a big no-no.

We wonder why our prayers don’t get answered. If our hearts are basking in these wrong motives, we are most likely asking God the wrong way, for the wrong reasons. God isn’t about to say yes to our requests if our desires are not pure.

We need to humble ourselves before the Lord. “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” I picture myself emptying myself in the presence of God. I pull all of the evil from my heart and lay it down. All of the junk, lies I’ve told myself about my worth, I lay it down. I’ve got quite a pile in front of me when I am truly honest with myself. When I have emptied myself of me and my faults, false truths, and evil desires, I am clean, humble before the Lord. We should do it daily.

One of our children’s Confirmation Bible verse was James 4:7, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” I have always thought that to be a profound and beautiful picture of getting rid of the junk inside. There is such freedom when we submit to God, yet so often we hold on to our own selfish ambitions. Do you do that, too?

If we successfully rid ourselves of what is holding us back, God’s promises to us are so worth it. “Come near to God and he will come near to you… Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” I don’t know about you, but that’s what I want to aspire to – having God near me, to be lifted up in his presence.

Let’s pray. Father God, I bow before you today and ask that you help me empty myself. I want to make room for you to live inside me. Lift me up so I can stand proudly and proclaim your name. Your perfect plan is waiting for me, and I want to humble myself before you to claim it. Help me to let go of what is holding me back. I want to step boldly into the world with you by my side, Lord. Thank you for all of the blessings you have given me. I want to live with a grateful and humble heart, unafraid to declare that you are my God, my creator and friend. In Jesus’ name. Amen.