Tuesday 07 February 2017

Bible Book:

“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (v. 7)

James 4:1-12 Tuesday 7 February 2017

Psalm: Psalm 102:1-11

The Methodist Church's Bible Month this year focuses on theletter of James. It takes place in June, although churches andcircuits may choose a different time if that is more convenient.For more information (including training and resources), goto www.methodist.org.uk/biblemonth.


This passage begins by explaining that arguments and disputeshave their roots in the heart, the cravings at war within the self(verse 1-3). It is this that leads to "disputes and conflicts" (v.2). James' observation is similar to that of Jesus, who identifiesthe heart as the source of inner defilement (Matthew 15:10-20). James notes that falsedesires lead to prayer driven by selfishness (verse 3), rather thanlove of God and neighbour.

James also warns more broadly against "friendship with theworld" (v. 4), a warning found also in 1 John (1 John2:15). While the world allows each person to pursue their ownwants and needs, friendship with God entails seeking the will ofGod above all else. While there is some uncertainty about how bestto translate verse 5, the NRSV translates that God "yearnsjealously for the spirit that he has made to dwell within us",probably referring to God's desire for the complete loyalty andlove of God's own people. Since we belong to God, God judges thosewho love the world over God.

While our failure to love God wholly may lead to despair - afterall, our hearts often wander - James reminds his readers that God"gives all the more grace" (v. 6). Those who humble themselvesunder God find that God meets them where they are, empowering themto follow Jesus. Verses 7-10 explain exactly what it means tohumble oneself. It means drawing near to God, repenting ofwrongdoing, and allowing oneself to be lifted up by God.

Having addressed the theme of wrongful speech in the previouschapter (link), James revisits it in verses 11-12. Believers shouldavoid speaking evil of each other. God, after all, is the ultimatejudge, and to "speak evil" (v. 11) against a brother or sister setsone up as a judge rather than a fellow recipient of God's goodnessand grace.

To Ponder

  • Do you think that James is right in his explanation of theorigins of "conflicts and disputes" (v. 1)? Why?
  • What does 'friendship with the world' look like today for you,and how can you avoid it?
  • In what ways can you maintain a sense of humility before theLord (verse 8)? 
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