“What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, ‘He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us’? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.” James 4:1-8,10
James sets forth a spectacular dichotomy between good and evil, contrasting our unbridled passions against right thinking, adulterous relationships against faithful ones, greed against self-control, the world against God, pride against humility, resistance against submission. They are always at war, and always stir up the vilest conflict and turmoil both within and around us. Like a tug-of-war, we can want to do (and think and desire) what is right, but the snarky, scrappy enemy is always playing games and pulling hard at our resolve. To beat him, we need to put up a fight, dig in our heels, lean back on God’s “more grace,” and resist him.
Am I a friend of the world, or friend of God? What evidence is there in how I speak of others, respond to others, pray and interact, whose friend I am? How do the ways I plan, behave at work, spend my time and spend my money, identify my allegiance? If I claim to be God’s friend, are there areas where I arouse His jealousy because I am flirting with a lesser comrade? Where do I need to lay down selfish desires to win, to have, to be recognized, for the greater exaltation that comes from humility and purity of heart? As the world tenaciously pulls at my attention, can my will succumb to my Lord’s more alluring (and vastly superior) love? Where do I need simply to let go of the rope, and turn, and walk into the arms of my Savior? (Philippians 2:1-8)
“Do not love the world or the things in the world.” “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.” 1 John 2:15; Matthew 6:24
Lord, I bow before You to be cleansed, purified, and set aright in my allegiances and affections. May I ever delight in You, that the desires of my heart are fulfilled in You alone. Thank You for making me Your friend forever. (Psalm 37:4; John 15:13-15)