Summary: The attitude of many "Christians" is that they want the blessings of Christ but yet they want to be able to indulge in all the worldly pleasures too. They think having the best of both worlds is the perfect, complete package; a great life. Let’s see what’
YOU CAN’T HAVE IT BOTH WAYS
INTRODUCTION: There’s a Van Halen song called, “Best of Both Worlds”. Some of the lyrics are, “I want the best of both worlds, and honey I know what it's worth; If we could have the best of both worlds, a little bit of heaven right here on earth. You don't have to die and go to heaven, or hang around to be born again; just tune in to what this place has got to offer, ‘cause we may never be here again.” This is indicative of the attitude of many so-called-Christians. They want the blessings of Christ but yet they want to be able to indulge in all the worldly pleasures too and have God be all right with it. They would think having the best of both worlds is the perfect, complete package; a great life. Let’s see what’s wrong with this attitude and where this thinking will take us.
1) What does friendship with the world result in?
• Discord (vs. 1). In this passage in James, he is setting before the people a question: is your aim in life to submit to the will of God or is it to satisfy your own desires? He warns that if your focus is the pleasures of this world then nothing but strife, hatred and divisions await you. When there is a driving force of self pleasure, when we want something bad enough, we allow nothing or no one to stand in our way. It’s dog eat dog, every man for himself. In pursuit of our desires we are willing to play cut-throat, step on toes, whatever it takes; no matter who gets hurt in the process. We damage or sever relationships. Our loyalties are only unto ourselves. This sets the stage for a lonely, depressed existence. The irony is that one who chooses to be a friend of the world really has no friends at all. In worldly relationships there is no trust, no dependence, no love. There may be compatibility and kindness but in the back of our minds we’re wondering who is going to stab us in the back, who is the one that would dishonor us if they had the chance. A lot of this paranoia comes in knowing that since this is the way we think and operate then everyone else must too. What a depressing existence. And where does all this come from? Our evil desires (1:14). It’s the desires that wage war on the inside that cause me to wage war on the outside. “Battle within you”- Gal. 5:16-17-“conflict with each other”-when we become born again the battle begins. Now there are two forces at work within us, vying for our allegiance. We need to see that there is a battle for control of our minds going on. 1st Pet. 2:11-“as aliens and strangers in the world”-not its friend. “War against your soul”.
• Dissatisfaction (vs. 2). We sometimes go to the wrong source for what we need in life. Instead of asking God, we go elsewhere. We try to find fulfillment in anything but God and we always wind up dissatisfied and frustrated. We want something so badly and are angry with God for not giving it to us. We become envious of those who do; we covet what they have and we develop a hatred for them. We “kill and covet”-not a literal killing (although it could lead to such) but rather the murder of the heart that Jesus talked about in Matt. 5:21-22. If I want to make material things my focus then I will never be satisfied, I will never be content. I will be angry and depressed. One of the biggest reasons we find ourselves in this trap that James speaks of here is because of our passion for money. 1st Timothy 6:6-10. The love of money (instead of our love for God) is at the heart of all kinds of evil like fighting and quarreling; like envy and covetousness. In this hot pursuit of worldly wealth we pierce ourselves with many griefs. “You do not have because you do not ask God. Interesting; we go after what we want in every way but the spiritual one. “You don’t have because you’re not relying on God to provide it for you; you’re taking matters into your own hands; and how’s that working for you?” Leaving God out of the equation will always leave us dissatisfied. Being a friend to the world will leave us dissatisfied.