-Chapter four is a smorgasbord of Godly wisdom in our actions during the course of our life, which is a vapor that only appears for a little and then vanishes to eternity (James 4:14). James begins with the source of quarrels and fights, which is the passion within us for selfish desires (James 4:1). The point is made that we don’t get what we ask for often because of the motives behind our asking. We ask wrongly when we want something for our own passions (James 4:3). This makes us adulterers (cheaters on God, double-minded, insincere). Our friendship with the world is against God and His ways. We can end up being an enemy of God when we ask with selfish motivations (James 4:4). *Application* God is jealous for us. He yearns for the spirit that He has made to dwell (live) in us (James 4:5). This is the spirit that is in conformity with His direction, His ways, His will (Romans 8:29; 12:1-2). This is where humble transformation is, which gives the eternal joy of knowing God intimately and in unity.
-Becoming a child of God is a humbling process, but the Lord gives grace to the contrite (Psalm 51:17, Isaiah 66:2). On the other hand, He is opposed to the proud (James 4:6). Because we recognize that God is Sovereign, submission is required towards Him. If we resist the worldly pull of the devil, he will flee from us. If we draw near to God, He will certainly draw near to us. That is His desire! Therefore, cleanse your hands from sin and purify your hearts from double-mindedness (spiritual adultery). Be wretched (be miserable, endure hardship) and mourn (be sad, grieve) and weep (cry out loud) for the awful-natural condition from which you need to turn. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt (lift up, raise high) you (James 4:7-10). *Application* God cannot deal with proud people that think they have it all together and need no help. “Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall (Proverbs 16:18).” On the other side of that, Christ gives the repentant and those with Godly sorrow forgiveness and restoration. Our dependency on Him raises us to new levels of confidence, not in ourselves, but IN Him, our Savior!
-Speaking evil against brothers is dealt with now in the passage, again in the context of destroying pride and being humble. The issue is on prideful judgment here, which James, through the Holy Spirit, denounces as ludicrous. God is our only righteous Judge and Lawgiver. Who are we to judge our neighbor (James 4:11-12)? *Application* Refrain from arbitrary judgments in the spirit of pride. This is not of God and will incur His wrath. As Jesus said, “take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye (Matthew 7:5).” God is the only One in authority to save or condemn. Who are we to think we could have that kind of power?
-Pride over what we will do in the future is now considered, again in the overall context of the book with regards to not just being hearers of the Word, but doers. Life is fleeting, and the only thing with which we must concern ourselves is the will of God. We do not know what tomorrow will bring; therefore, it is useless to make bold and extravagant plans in our own wisdom. It is only “as the Lord wills” that we will live and do this or that. Do not boast in arrogance about what you are going to do because all such boasting is evil the Bible says. If you know what to do and fail to do it, you have sinned and have come far short of the glory of God (James 4:13-17). *Application* The best laid plans of mice and men will falter if the Lord is not in it. This should keep us humbly submitted to His authority with proper respect, honor, awe, and fear. When we get to that place, we will recognize His glory and the unsurpassing love He has for us in His grace and mercy. We will never find God if we don’t ever need Him. Recognize how really weak you are in yourself and cry out for the ultimate power source in Christ Jesus for your future in Him!
Verses to memorize: James 4:1, 3, 6-8, 10, 14-15, 17