James – Dealing with sin
We have been spending many days now praying for peace in the countries of our missionary friends and their families who are caught in the middle of violent protests and civil war in the countries God has invited them to serve with Him. Some of them have had to flee their home because of the degree of killing and destruction.
Our first sentence in our passage for today tells us where this violence all comes from, “Do you think they (wars and quarrels) just happen? Think again. They come about because you want your own way, and fight for it deep inside yourselves. You lust for what you don’t have and are willing to kill to get it. You want what isn’t yours and will risk violence to get your hands on it.” Mm. Self…That’s where the war begins, says James.
If self were laid aside and a loud yes to God was shouted over the noise of self and the sin that results, what would change? Would wars cease? Would violence calm to peace? Would oppression and the oppressors come together? It seems to be deeper than all the political rhetoric that accompanies wars.
There will always be wars among you in this world, says Jesus. But I have overcome the world. When Jesus’ disciples ask when He would come and take over and set things right in their world of oppression from the Romans, Matthew relates what Jesus responded, “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.
“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.”
James, brother to Jesus, tells to “get serious”, get on our knees and humbly ask God for help as we lay down self and live among war and violence that is the result of selfishness.
James 4, The Message
1-2 Where do you think all these appalling wars and quarrels come from? Do you think they just happen? Think again. They come about because you want your own way, and fight for it deep inside yourselves. You lust for what you don’t have and are willing to kill to get it. You want what isn’t yours and will risk violence to get your hands on it.
2-3 You wouldn’t think of just asking God for it, would you? And why not? Because you know you’d be asking for what you have no right to. You’re spoiled children, each wanting your own way.
4-6 You’re cheating on God. If all you want is your own way, flirting with the world every chance you get, you end up enemies of God and his way. And do you suppose God doesn’t care? The proverb has it that “he’s a fiercely jealous lover.” And what he gives in love is far better than anything else you’ll find. It’s common knowledge that “God goes against the willful proud; God gives grace to the willing humble.”
7-10 So let God work his will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper. Say a quiet yes to God and he’ll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field. Hit bottom, and cry your eyes out. The fun and games are over. Get serious, really serious. Get down on your knees before the Master; it’s the only way you’ll get on your feet.
11-12 Don’t bad-mouth each other, friends. It’s God’s Word, his Message, his Royal Rule, that takes a beating in that kind of talk. You’re supposed to be honoring the Message, not writing graffiti all over it. God is in charge of deciding human destiny. Who do you think you are to meddle in the destiny of others?
Nothing but a Wisp of Fog
13-15 And now I have a word for you who brashly announce, “Today—at the latest, tomorrow—we’re off to such and such a city for the year. We’re going to start a business and make a lot of money.” You don’t know the first thing about tomorrow. You’re nothing but a wisp of fog, catching a brief bit of sun before disappearing. Instead, make it a habit to say, “If the Master wills it and we’re still alive, we’ll do this or that.”
16-17 As it is, you are full of your grandiose selves. All such vaunting self-importance is evil. In fact, if you know the right thing to do and don’t do it, that, for you, is evil.
SO, HOW DO WE PRAY FOR THOSE OPPRESSED AND AT WAR?
–On our knees. James did. He was called camel knees because of his way of humbled prayer to God.
–Lay down self (hourly, if needed) and opinions of why war and violence are happening…even when it seems obvious. It’s deeper than that.
–Seriously ask God to soften the hearts of those who are full of selfish desires that oppress others to get what they want.
–Pray without ceasing until Jesus comes to end all war.
–Pray believing that God knows and will respond.
–Pray Jesus words, “Lead us not into temptations, but deliver us from evil.”
–Pray for peace and help to end our personal internal wars with evil.
–Say a loud YES! to God when He asks you to join Him in His work.
I was mentored many years ago with these words:
KNOW YOURSELF. (In relationship with God)
KNOW HIS MESSAGE.
KNOW YOUR ENEMY.
I have learned to add and remind myself daily:
KNOW JESUS HAS AND WILL DEFEAT YOUR ENEMY.
No matter where you are and what you are going through, “Greater is HE that is in you, than he that is in the world.”
Get serious. God is there for us.
Dear Heavenly Father,
Our hearts break for those caught in the middle of wars and the resulting violence perpetrated by selfish people who allow evil to reign in and through them. We pray for peace. We pray for the protection of your people. We pray your will be done. We pray for those who have lost loved ones as a result of war. Transform me. Transform your church. Transform the world in whatever way You desire. You know what is best, so we say yes to You!
In Jesus Name, and by Your power, Amen. I believe.