Personal Journey

James Bible Study Chapter 4

Time for James Chapter 4! Grab those annotation tools and let’s get to it~~~

A Journey Through James.png

[1] What is the source of wars and fights among you? Don’t they come from your passions that wage war within you? [2] You desire and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and wage war. You do not have because you do not ask. [3] You ask and don’t receive because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. 

Here I want to focus on the latter half of verse 2: you do not have because you do not ask. So many times I’ve heard people say that they feel ‘bad’ for asking God for help. I think that way of thinking is incredibly false. If God can do all things, then why don’t you give Him all things? He can handle all the worries from the entire world combined. Give Him your all.

Verse 3 goes into what to pray for. We must have good intentions with what we ask for- we must not ask for earthly things. This doesn’t mean that we can’t want earthy things, but we shouldn’t value them over what really matters. We are talking big picture things here, not a new iPad or a bigger TV. We also shouldn’t doubt God’s ability to fulfill our prayers. For some extra scripture connections, see Psalm 37:4 and James 1:6.

[4] You adulterous people! Don’t you know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? So whoever wants to be the friend of the world becomes the enemy of God. [5] Or do you think it’s without reason that the Scripture says: The spirit he made to dwell in us envies intensely?

God is jealous for us. He wants us to follow Him and not the earthly things around us. He wants us to praise Him and to want Him! Be a friend first of God, and then all else. He yearns for the spirit to be alive in us.

[6] But he gives greater grace. Therefore he says: God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. [7] Therefore, submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. [8] Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands sinners, and purify your hears, you double-minded. [9] Be miserable and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. [10] Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

Verse 6 is saying that God resists those who are proud an boast about earthy things, but gives grace to those who are kind, generous, and selfless.

The rest of this passage seems kind of depressing if we are being honest. It sounds like God wants us to be completely miserable and mourn, but that is not the point. What I think it’s actually saying here is that we need to throw away our pride and realize that we are broken so that we can seek His comfort. Think of this like that middle school girl who wants to handle her drama all on her own but realizes she hurts too much inside and finally gives in to her mom for comfort and advice- we can’t do it alone. Don’t act like you can! We have Him for a reason, you know.

Even though you are broken, you will be redeemed.

[11] Don’t criticize one another, brothers and sisters. Anyone who demos or judges a fellow believer defames and judges the law. If you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. [12] There is one lawgiver and judge who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?

I really want to focus on verse 12 here. Just because you are Christian does’ mean that you can judge others unfairly or unjustly. So much of the world thinks Christians are unnecessarily ‘judgy’, and that’s because some Christians think that they have the authority to judge others. This is so wrong! There is ONE judge and ONE who saves.

The other day I was on facebook and saw a comment on a popular post about someone talking about their deceased uncle who never believed in God and they said “it’s so sad to think about where he is now.” This commenter thought that they had the ability to judge where a person is- and that is so wrong! God SAVES! You are not the judge, so take extra precautions when you find your mind wandering to judging those around you.

[13] Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will travel to such and such city and spend a year there and do business and make a profit.” [14] Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring — what your life will be! For you are like vapor that appears for a little while, then vanishes. [15] Instead, you should say, “if the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” [16] But as it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. [17] So it is sin to know the good and yet not do it.

I really love this passage. I’m always a worrier about the future, so this one hits close to home. This isn’t saying to completely forget about your future and just see what happens. You should still plan for the future, but you shouldn’t be so stuck to your plan that you wouldn’t veer off the path if you thought God was leading you elsewhere.

One part of this passage that at first put me off a little bit was “for you are like vapor that appears for a little while, then vanishes.” At first I was like…wow. well that stinks. we’re basically nothing. But then I looked into it further. God isn’t saying that we are worth nothing and have no purpose in this verse. I think it’s more so a comparison about how short our life is and how powerful He is. We are like vapor/dust because we don’t have the power He has. We vanish because our lives are short, but life with Him is eternal. Vanishing here doesn’t mean destruction or disappearance, it’s simply just our lifetime.

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