Summary: God doesn’t want you to enjoy the things of the world...but the things of God in the world.
Part 4 – Friend of God
I left my truck at Andy’s house while I was in Chicago week before last. I came home and on Sunday night Nikki and I ran over to get it. I was going to take it home, but she convinced me to bring it over here to the parking lot and set it out there. So we did and Monday morning I got a voice mail from a guy who said he saw it and needed to talk to me right away. So we got together Monday afternoon and he said he and his wife live in Atlanta but have some property down in Sparta they needed to check on. They usually take 20 all the way to wherever you get off to go to Sparta, but he said for some reason the Lord told him to come this way. So he did. He pulled up here Monday afternoon and said “Brett, the Lord told me to buy this truck.” I said “good, because the Lord told me to sell it.” He bought that truck and never even drove it. God is good. Obedience works.
Okay, James 4. What would Jesus’ brother do? We’ve looked at wisdom and the payoff in getting it. We’ve talked about why the works we do are an extension of our faith. We’ve talked about the damage that can occur when we let our tongues get the best of us. Today we are going to look at the test of friendship with God.
James 4:1-3 (READ)
An underlying idea that you need to understand while reading the book of James is that there are some serious issues in the church as he writes. Remember these Christians that he is writing to are not just one body of believers, but most likely many who were scattered back in Acts 8 when persecution broke out in Jerusalem. So they are Christians who have been on the run for quite a while.
Apparently they have really begun to lose focus on the things that Jesus taught them and the apostles passed on to them. We learn from reading in James 1 that there were some real trials that had come their way and that just hearing the word of God in the midst of the trials isn’t enough, but that they need to do what the Word says. In chapter 2 you begin to get the idea that there was some struggling for popularity and showing of favoritism to those who were affluent. In chapter three we see that some with influence had begun to teach things that were a little screwy and that jealousy and selfishness was running rampant in the church and the church was being divided.
James is writing this letter to a church that is in crisis. And it is into that context that we read chapter 4 verse 1 “What is causing these quarrels and fights among you?” James is donning the role of Pastor to these churches to help them see again what the real issue is.
In verse 2 he talks about the ideas of the evil desires that war within us. This statement makes a bit more sense when you understand that the Jewish rabbis believed that evil impulses had their seats in the various organs and therefore there was literally a war going on inside of us….when we are pulled one way by our conscious and another by evil desires.
James says that there are things that these people want but they do not have them so they are going to great lengths to acquire this stuff. He says that they were scheming and killing to get it. You fight and you quarrel to take the stuff you want from the people who have it.
The reason that they were fighting is because they had gotten all caught up in the desire to acquire…stuff. Whether that stuff is material possession or leadership position or whatever…there was a clear sense that these churches had lost sight of all that Jesus taught us.
He goes on to say in verse 2b “And yet the reason you don’t have what you want is that you don’t ask God for it. And even when you do ask you don’t get it because your whole motive is wrong…you want only what will give you pleasure.”
And in one statement, James gets to the crux of so many of our problems. MOTIVE. And motive is once again (just like last week) a condition of the heart. These early Christians were scattered further away from the core of the church in Jerusalem and the further they got away from the church (the HUB of activity) the easier it was for them to get mixed up in the world.