James 4 - Warning Against Arrogance

James 4:2 - "You desire and do not have, so you murder." Was murder really a big issue here? I suspect that James was exaggerating.

James 4:1-3 - I recently read a posting (OK, part of it since I was too disgusted to finish it) claiming that to doubt that God was going to give us what we desire (healing, in that context) wasn't even faith. In fact, it was sinful to consider that perhaps God wouldn't heal when we ask Him to, according to the writer. I'm not going to look it up to link to, because it was, frankly, evil - a heretic interpretation of this passage and others that promise that God will grant our requests.

it is a simplistic interpretation of James 4:2 to say if we ask for it we will receive it. Note the next verse where James says it is possible to ask wrongly, for our own desires. God is not our servant, like some almighty Jeanie there to simply grant our requests. No we are His servants, created to do His will, not the other way around. We are top submit our will to His, and to interpret this passage in any way outside of that context is evil and preys on the desperation of people in despair.

To claim that healing (or anything else) is there for the taking if our faith is strong enough, our prayers sincere enough or any other such nonsense is not only a bastardization of James' intent, it's a viscous slap in the face to righteous, God fearing men and women who have suffered and endured hardships and illnesses.

So, what is James' point in James 4:1-10? Almost the exact opposite. When we think in the ways of the world, concentrating on what we think we need or what we want, we stand opposed to God. James calls it adultery in verse four. It's our selfish, worldly thoughts that drive us away from God. Get humble, submit to Him, don't audaciously assume that He will submit to you.

James 4:13-16 - The entire chapter,in some ways, is about arrogance. We assume that we know what we need or that we know better than another. We follow the ways of the world instead of submitting to God. This passage really drives that point home, everything we plan to do is subject to the will of the Father. If He is willing, we will work, get married, have a family, grow old. It's humbling to consider how easily God can change the course of our lives, even end them. The old line that Mom would give us "I brought you into this world, i can take you out." brings on a sobering new meaning when God is speaking.

Do we live with that knowledge in our minds?

James 4:17 - So, James ends this chapter - OK, he didn't write in chapters, we imposed that on his writings - he ends this section with "So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin." At first, this appears to be a bit incongruous to me. What does this have to do with the preceding verses?

Clearly, James' audience was busy perusing their own interests, making plans, and battling each other in their attempts to achieve success. Along the way, they were passing over opportunities to do the right thing.

How many times along the way in life is there opportunity to do the right thing, yet we are too busy to even notice, let alone act? Many times, too many times. The old adage about stopping to smell the roses comes to mind, but instead we need to slow down and look away from our plans and our desires and humble ourselves enough to see what God sees along the way. There are many opportunities to do the good we ought to do, if we'd only be aware.

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