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Thursday, November 6, 2014

Behavior and Actions

A Deeper Insight to Humility

James Chapter 4
Caree Connolly

In the chapter 3 of James, we learned that control over the tongue can be difficult. James gave a few examples of what the tongue was similar to. It is likened to a ship's rudder, and also a horse's bridle. James tells us that although man can tame any creature on the planet, he can't tame his own tongue. That's something only God can do. 

We also learned that faith produces wisdom. It is not a worldly wisdom. It is a wisdom from above, pure, and full of mercy.

As we begin Chapter 4, this chapter will give us a deeper insight on humility and our dependence to God and His will for us.

Faith Produces Humility

James chapter 4:1-6
Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously”? But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”

When the word war is said, most people think of battles like the Korean War, World War I , or World War II to name just a few. James is speaking in this case of fighting amongst our brothers in Christ. It was happening then; we know it still goes on in today's churches.

(But what does it tell us in the Scripture?)

Psalm 133: 1 “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.”

Sadly, we see though here in this book of James, the different battles which can develop within the church body:
  • Class Wars: We read about that in James 2:1-9 {the rivalry between rich and poor. How the rich is given attention and the poor is either ignored or looked down upon.} 
  • Church Wars: James 1:19. 3:13-18 {church members vying for positions of authority, like wanting to be teachers. Reading the Word, but having their own opinion on what it means}
  • Employment Wars: which we will be seeing in James 5 {constant bickering about the rich having power to control the poor.}
  • Personal Wars: will be brought out in verse 11 and 12 {saints speaking evil to one another. }

It is not good that the church is at war within itself. Leader against leader, church against church, fellowship against fellowship. The example set is watched by the world.
Jesus' prayed: “ That they all may be as one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” John 17:21

So why do we war amongst one another 
when we belong to the same family, trust in the same Savior; 
and are in indwelt by the Holy Spirit?

James is able to answer this.

James 4:1-3 says Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.

The word lust means: an intense desire. We see how people in the world around us sometimes use the lust of the flesh to get what they want. And the lengths they go to obtain those desires the scriptures refer to as: Robbery, murder, trickery, lying, and other ungodly means. And here James is speaking of his brethren acting in the same like manner.

One of essences of sin is selfishness. Genesis 12:10-20 tells the story of Achan, and his selfish greed. We know Eve desired that fruit over obeying the Lord.

We have turned every one to his own way” Isaiah 53:6

Our selfish desire can be dangerous. Leading to wrong actions: Lust, covetousness, fighting and killing. And they lead towards praying wrong.

If we are not praying correctly, or praying with a self attitude, our walk with Christ is wrong.

"Prayer is not getting man's will done in heaven, but getting God's will done on earth. It is not overcoming God's reluctance but laying hold of God's willingness." Richard C. Trench

"Prayer requires more of the heart than the tongue." Adam Clarke

Some Christians do not seek God's will through prayer, but instead tell God what He needs to do. And when it doesn't happen, they get angry. Angry first at God which eventually turns to anger at people.

Humility Cures Heedlessness 

James 4: 7-10
Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts,you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.

Warren Weirsbe says in his commentary that when we are at war with ourselves, either internal or external; the root cause is rebellion against God. 

But God created this world in perfect harmony.

Than God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good.” Genesis 1:31
Yet when sin entered the world, this led to conflict against God.
“Sin is lawlessness, and lawlessness is rebellion against God.” I John 3:4
How can a believer than war against God? The scriptures tell us that Christians have three enemies: the world, the flesh, and the devil.
  • The world: human society that is anti-God and anti-Christ. God is an enemy of the world, and we are a friend to the world, we are not a friend of God.

  • The flesh: This would be our old nature. When we accept Christ, we receive a new nature within. The old nature is still lurking in the background though. 
“For the sinful nature desires contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. Galatians 5:17
If you are living to please the flesh, you are not pleasing God. 
“The carnal mind is enmity against God.” Romans 8:7
  • The devil: the devil opposes the Son of God. Pride as what brought Satan down, and he uses pride to cause warfare between the saint and Savior.

Psalm 10:4 “In his pride the wicked man does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.
Proverbs 11:2 When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.
Those are the enemies of the believer, but James does not leave us without the proper tools for combat.
Verse 7; Submit to God. Warren Weirsbe likens this to a military term. 'get into your proper rank'. We need to surrender unconditionally to God. And not give Satan any foothold in our lives.
Verse 8; Draw near to God. God draws near to us when we deal with the sin in our lives, which keep Him at a distance. He does not share us with anyone.
II Corinthians 11:2 I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy.
Verse 9-10; Humble yourselves before God. Some can show outward submission, but not be humbled inwardly. God hates the sin of pride. And He will chasten the proud believer. 

He wants a attitude just like it says in Isaiah 34:18 “To this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.”
Matthew 23:12 “He that shall humble himself shall be exalted”.
If we are truly repentant and humble, He will lift us up out of trouble.

Do Not Judge a Brother

James 4:11-12
Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?

We seem to have come back around to the darn tongue again. Sometimes it just gets us into trouble. There is a Greek word; katalaleite; which means 'any thing that may hurt or injure another.'
From the commentaries I've read, this verse is delvlng into a more serious note. As Christians, we should not be defiling or defaming each other. Keeping our brothers and sisters good name is important. There is that old saying; If you don't have something good to say, don't say anything at all.

As for being a judge...
The law of Moses says, “Thou shalt not go up and down as a tale-bearer among thy people”. Leviticus 19:16
and Matthew 7:1, “Judge not, that you be not judged”.
The sum of both we should love one another. And the only true lawgiver is our Lord God.

Do Not Boast About Tomorrow

James 4:13-17
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; whereas you do not know whatwill happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.

James first reproved the Christians for judging one another. Now he must address their lack of providence. In Warren Weirsbe's commentary, he thought James might have been talking about the wealthy merchants in the assembly. Needless to say though, these people were taking no regard to seeking the will of God or praying about important decisions. Their thoughts were centered on the success of their life. Getting their own way.

James reveals the foolishness in ignoring the will of God.

Verse 13, he brings into focus,{ the complexity of life.} We all have things that we do everyday. And it's made up of people places, activities, and goals. Life is a mystery in itself. When we seek His will, life starts to make sense. We no longer live in a mysterious, threatening world. It's our Father's world!

Verse 14a; {The uncertainty of life.} We don't know what tomorrow brings. Proverbs 27:1 “Boast not thyself of tomorrow; for thou knowest not what a day brings forth.” The people of James day were planing far ahead. We see this happening just as much today. Jesus had a parable of the rich man who had many barns to hold all crops, and had to build even more. You can read about this in Luke 12:16-21

We don't know our tomorrow, but God does. 
Being in His will though, gives us confidence for tomorrow.

Verse 14b; {The brevity of life} for us, life can seem long, and we measure it by years. But in comparison to eternity, life is a vapor. Job 7:9 “Our days upon earth are a shadow”. We count the number of years on our birthdays. (well, maybe those in this room), but God tells us to number our days. (Psalm 90:12)

Since life is so brief, instead of just 'spending' our life doing nothing, we need to invest our life to things that are eternal.

The final few verses speak of God's will. “If the Lord will” is not just a statement. It's the attitude of the heart. The apostle Paul refers to the Lord's will in: ( Romans 1:10, 15:32, I Corinthians 4:19, 16:7)

Many know the will of God, but choose to disobey it. That brings us back into the word pride. (I know what you want of me, but prefer not to do it) Not a good attitude. Others think that God's will is a formula for misery. Not so. It's not doing God's will that leads to misery. The Bible tells us that disobeying God's will can be a serious thing. 

Colossions 3:22-25
Bondservants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God. And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ. But he who does wrong will be repaid for what he has done, and there is no partiality.

God's Word states His will for us to follow;

Yield our-self: found in 2 Corinthians 8:5
Avoid sexual immorality: I Thessalonians 4:3
Rejoice, Pray, and Thank God: I Thessalonians 5:16-18

I am so thankful that God's will is not cold and impersonal. The will of God is a living relationship Between Him and us.

This chapter gives us a look on behavior and actions. 

Wars can be fought, even within a church body -- whether it be with others, ourselves, or God Himself. God wants us to humble ourselves and submit to Him. 

He will lift us up!

We are reminded that the tongue can still cause damage to a brother or sister in Christ, if we use it to judge. But it's God who is the true judge. Also our lives here on earth are just temporary. We should be looking forward to being eternally with Jesus. 

Finally, God's will is what and who we should always seek. Doing His will is so much better than our own. 

Are we truly living in humility today? 

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