Today, we are jumping straight into the continuation and completion of chapter 4. I have divided verses 11 – 17 into two topics entitled – Check Your Motives and Who Is In Control?
Check Your Motives (James 4:11-12)
Simply put, if we do or say anything without love as the underlying motivation we are disobeying God’s law (Mt. 22:37-40) and we are not representing God’s character to the world for God is love (1 Jhn. 4:8, 16). In essence then, speaking evil of another is sin. You cannot be speaking evil of someone and do so in love. The two just don’t go hand in hand. Anything not in accordance with God’s will is sin. God’s will is evidenced in His law. All of the law is contained in the two commandments – love the Lord and love your neighbour as yourself. If we were really concerned about our brother or sister, when we see the need for correction we would go to them in love to help them and do so humbly (Gal 6:1). The earlier verses in this same chapter speak to the importance of humility (Jas. 4:6, 10). We must always remember that we are not better than our brothers or sisters. We are subject to the very same temptations and can fall just as they have. To think otherwise is to be proud and arrogant; to be self-righteous.
When we know God’s law and do not obey it, we are actually saying that the law is of no importance; that we know more than God. When we are busy criticizing others for their actions, we are actually no better than they are because we are also breaking God’s law. This is why we are warned not to judge so that we do not lay ourselves open to being judged in the same manner (Mt. 7:1; Lk. 6:37). Also, many times we are busy focusing on other people’s sins when we have greater sins that we need to address (Mt. 7:3-5). We must continually do our own self-assessment and be sure that we are really in a position to correct another. Self-righteousness, hypocrisy and pride can so easily become our driving forces. Be on guard, lest you fall prey to a critical spirit.
If and when we are called to judge, we must do so with righteous judgment (Jhn. 7:24). Righteousness is always undergirded by love. Before we criticize or seek to speak ill of another let us assess our own motives and then choose to keep quiet if our motives are not pure. Nuff said!!
Who Is In Control? (James 4:13-17)
When we were born again, in some form or fashion we said to the Lord that we were ready to give over control of our lives to Him. We recognized in that time and at that moment that our best efforts had yielded only destruction and pain in our lives. It was time for God take up the reins. Why then do we always seek to take back control? It’s called the carnal nature. We take it with us into salvation and at its root is the original sin of PRIDE. I cannot say it loudly enough or frequently enough, PRIDE IS OUR GREATEST ENEMY!! Many times, pride is in operation in our lives and we don’t even realize it is at work. One of the indicators of pride is the belief that we determine our own fate; that we are in control of our own destinies. Although we do have a responsibility to partner with God in the fulfillment of His plan for our lives, ultimately He is the one who has to guide our footsteps in accordance with that plan. We don’t know when the plan is scheduled to come to an end but He does. Pride makes us become our own god. Pride is so pervasive and persistent that it is a recurring theme throughout James’ letter to his fellow believers. We too must take heed accordingly.
We must ALWAYS see ourselves as nothing compared with God. We are God’s creation not the other way around. As created beings, who are we to act as though we have the power to control anything that concerns our lives. Let us walk circumspectly (Eph. 5:15) and have reverence and awe of God always at the forefront of our minds. We are nothing when compared to our awesome Father. Everything we have and everything we are is because of Him. We have absolutely nothing to boast about.
The final thought I want to leave with us as I close this discourse on James chapter 4 is how little control we really do have over our lives and more so over when our sojourn here on earth will come to an end. With this in mind, we must work while it is day for we do not know how much longer we will have (Jhn. 9:4). Use time wisely. It is a valuable resource God has given us control of and we must do the things that have eternal value while we can. We cannot afford to procrastinate because we do not know if we will ever get a second chance to do what we chose to put off doing. Sin is not only about doing wrong things, it is also about failure to do the right things at the right time. If you are a believer, the Holy Spirit is constantly guiding you into the things Father God desires you to do each day (Phil. 2:13). You and I are therefore without excuse. When we feel the prompting of Holy Spirit and choose not to act accordingly God says that is sin (Jas. 4:17). We are operating outside of God’s will for our lives. I am the first to admit “guilty as charged”.
We must therefore prioritize. Treat the time you have been given with utmost respect and ensure you fulfill your God given purpose. Time wasted is opportunity lost. Consult God about every aspect of your life. He wrote down the plan and He has a vested interest in seeing its fulfillment (Psa. 23:3b). He alone knows the beginning from the end. Every day when we wake up we need to ask, “Father God, what is Your awesome plan for me today? How can I partner with You today to fulfill Your purpose for my life?” This is the relationship Father God wants to have with His children (Prov. 3:5-7).