Summary: The call in this chapter is to submit to God through the way we speak to each other and through the way we speak to God.

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James 4:1-17

Submission To God

Here is a simple question.

If you are a Christian do you need to submit to God?

How many people here would say “yes” (hands up).

How many people would say “no” (hands up).

Ok, now how many people here know that they do not submit to God all the time (hands up).

Our “acts of submission” are more like a little boy whose mother keeps insisting he sit down in his highchair. When he finally unlocks his knees and plops into the seat, his glare tells the real story, “I may be sitting down on the outside–but I’m still standing up on the inside!”

That is us at times isn’t it. We are supposed to be sitting before God in submission – but we are really standing up on the inside. And it happens in all sorts of circumstances. In his letter James identifies a couple of those circumstances.

James 4:1-17 (read)

How are these two examples of submission to God?

It is all about the way we speak.

How do we speak to others?

How do we speak to God?

The way we speak reflects whether we are sitting down on the inside, or standing up on the inside.

Let’s start by focussing on the way we speak to others.

Now I don’t know about you, but I do not think I would want to be a member of one of the churches James is writing to. They really don’t like each other do they?

• fighting and quarrels.

• battling desires within.

• killing and coveting.

• self-centred prayer.

No I don’t think they were literally killing each other – James is exaggerating to make the point. But it is pretty clear that this was one very sorry place where people were just tearing one another apart. And I look at this and I say “This is not us ... this is not NEC”.

Is that a fair judgement?

Is that me just being boastful?

I don’t think so.

So ... when it comes to the first section of this passage our prayer should be:-

“Lord continue to keep us in unity without fights and quarrels. We want to be Your friends and show that we are by having speech which is encouraging towards each other. Lord keep us humble in this”.

A church which is divided is a church that has little or no impact on the community. If we ever find ourselves fighting with one another, it should be the red flag that indicates something has gone really wrong.

Enough said there. Let’s skip down and have a closer look at verses 13-17 ... we have a closer look because James is highlighting issues where we definitely have trouble submitting to God. It all has to do with The way we speak to God. In order to make his message clear James begins by introducing us to a group of people.

In the days of James successful businessmen were those who went from city to city, selling their wares in each place, then moving on. The key to a good and profitable business was the ability to be flexible and change to commodities which were in demand in each individual town.

These were the men who were saying … let’s go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.

Understand that these people are part of the Christian community.

They have made a confession that Jesus is Lord.

If they were here today they would be putting up their hands when I asked, “Should you submit to God?”

Yet, they are like that child in the high chair. Sitting on the outside but standing on the inside.

Their problem is that they are speaking as if God doesn’t exist.

Listen again.

Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money

Do you hear what they are saying?

Listen again ... because doesn’t it sound familiar.

All these grand plans ... but where is God?

In one breath they have planned the time, place, duration, activities and results of their trips.

In one breath visions of good travels, profitable exchanges, quality products and the spoils of wealth spin around in the minds of these men.

In one breath a whole years events are proposed.

And at no time has God come into the picture.

Their planning oozes with arrogance … and God is not happy.

They’re in the church.

They sing the praises of God each week.

Yet, for all intents and purposes, the planning of their business trips is no different to a non-believer.

And it is so easy to see ourselves in them ... isn’t it.

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