Summary: Being a Christian is not a hat we wear, and then take off when it’s convenient or uncomfortable. It’s not going to church or Bible study or choir practice. It’s not a fake ID we show at the pearly gates of heaven or a ‘get out of hell free’ card. Being a
James 4:1-10 – Winning the War, with Humility
‘Every baby starts life as a little savage. He is completely selfish and self-centered. He wants what he wants when he wants it — his bottle, his mother’s attention, his playmate’s toy, his uncle’s watch. Deny him these once, and he seethes with rage and aggressiveness which would be murderous were he not so helpless. He is dirty, he has no morals, no knowledge, no skills. This means that all children — not just certain children — are born delinquent. If permitted to continue in the self-centered world of his infancy, given free reign to his impulsive actions to satisfy his wants, every child would grow up a criminal — a thief, a killer, or a rapist.’
Scary stuff, that? How does it make you feel to listen to something like that? This report was produced in 1926 by The Minnesota Crime Commission. It reported on the growth of crime and reached a startling conclusion. Does it sound out of date to you? Is it totally wrong, off-base or biased? This was not a report produced by the church about ‘sinners’, it was written about every person. It was a conclusion on the human condition in a way, our condition of being sinners; sinners who are involved in a war within themselves. And so, with that in mind, I want us to take a look at the 4th chapter of the book of James where the author speaks to us about this battle, this war. Listen to what James has to say about winning this war:
Submit Yourselves to God
1What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. 3When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
4You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. 5Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely?[a] 6But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:
"God opposes the proud
but gives grace to the humble."[b]
7Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. (NIV)
Why do we fight? Why do we quarrel? Why do people steal, lie, cheat, beat up and even kill one another? Why do we do the things we know we really should not do? In Romans 7, Paul wrestles with this subject. Sin and the law and the sinful nature of man. He writes how it drives him crazy that the things he wants to he doesn’t do, and the things he does not want to do, he does. It’s this awful thing called SIN raging a battle with the nature of God that now dwells in his life, and in OUR lives as Christians. And we have to choose who we listen to…
We are in a battle, a war for our souls. It’s the eternal battle of good vs. evil. If you don’t believer there is such a thing, then just watch or listen to the news from around the world how people are doing awful things to one another.
These ‘battles within’ as James calls them, start in each one of us as individuals though. It’s the choices we make that cause these battles to wage on and on. It’s a circular problem. It starts with our desires. The things we want. Things like money, possessions, power or authority. We want more of this an more of that. We’re like kids in a sandbox, ‘Gimme that! I want it! That’s mine! You can’t play with that, it’s mine! I’ll get you for taking my truck! That’s my shovel! Mine, mine, mine! …MOMMY!...’
We desire what everybody else has. We’re not satisfied with what we have. And we HAVE so much! Compared to most of the rest of the world, we are RICH. If you’ve got a roof over your head, of any kind, you eat at least once a day, and have some change in your pocket, you are doing better than a lot of people in the world who have nothing to call their own.