Come near to God and he will come near to you…. James 4:8
1 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.
Hot selfish desire – a passion to possess something an individual does not or cannot have. The desire is wrong. This is not something one asks God for.
3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
In a context where “selfish ambition” is condemned, it seems likely that status or recognition as a leader, rather than something material, is the consuming passion of those who sow disorder in the Christian community.
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.”
James uses an OT symbol for idolatry in calling such persons “adulterous.” They are unfaithful to God, deserting him for the values of the world. But God is jealous over his people and eager to give grace to the humble who align themselves with his authority.
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.
When believers are responsive to God, they will take a stand against the devil, who will then flee. They will draw near to God. Coming to God will mean facing themselves, and the pain of repentance. But those who do humble themselves before God will be lifted up by him.
How striking! The recognition ambitious people so yearn for can only be achieved by self-humbling. The “wisdom from heaven” that seems to demand setting aside our own concerns for others is the way to exaltation by God.
Judging; 4:11, 12.
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?
To judge another person means taking to oneself the privilege of God! God gave the law: he alone is to judge. No human being has the right to judge another.
False Pride; 4:13-17.
Boasting About Tomorrow
13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. 17 If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.
Now James speaks briskly to merchants, who boast arrogantly of their plans and profits. This is wrong, for it fails to recognize the fleeting nature of life. It fails to acknowledge God as sovereign in men’s affairs.