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(Part 141)


May 22, 2018
Today’s reading:James 4:1-10

An unfortunate reality in the Church are the conflicts between and among the people of God, whether in parishes, organizations, movements, congregations and even in the top hierarchy of the Church. James says, “Where do the wars and where do the conflicts among you come from? Is it not from your passions that make war within your members?” (Jas 4:1). Christians should be passionate, but it should be passion to proclaim Christ and to wage war on the enemy, and not to make war with their own brethren. Unfortunately, that is what happens.

What do Christians do? “You covet ….” (Jas 4:2a). There are those who are envious of their brethren, for having something they desire for themselves. It might be power or position or acclaim. “You kill and envy ….” (Jas 4:2b). Then out of envy they speak out against their brethren, killing their reputation and good standing within the community with their tongue, with lies and calumny. “You fight and wage war.” (Jas 4:2c). Then they escalate the conflict into a war on their brethren, not realizing that the only enemy is the evil one.

Such people are “adulterers!” (Jas 4:4a). They have broken covenant with God and with brethren in community. This is likened to the infidelity of adultery. They have betrayed God, their brethren, and the body of Christ of which they are a part. As such, such actions are really serious matters in the eyes of God.

Now of course we are all sinners and we have to contend with the weakness of our flesh, that is prone to evil. “The spirit that he has made to dwell in us tends toward jealousy.” (Jas 4:5b). Be that as it is, God does give us the strength to overcome, as “he bestows a greater grace” (Jas 4:6a). But we need to look to God and be humble, knowing that on our own we cannot overcome. The leader who is envious and ambitious is one who is proud. But here is the reality: “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (Jas 4:6b).

What then should we do?

  • “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” (Jas 4:8a). There is no substitute for a deep, intimate, personal relationship with Jesus. Jesus wants such a relationship. But do we take the time and effort to enter into it? If we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, then we will not look to inflicting harm on our brethren.
  • “Cleanse your hands, you sinners” (Jas 4:8b). Know that we are called to holiness and Christian perfection. We are to avoid sin.
  • “Purify your hearts, you of two minds.” (Jas 4:8c). We are to be pure of mind and heart. We are to be single-minded in our devotion to God and fidelity to our covenant.
  • “So submit yourselves to God” (Jas 4:7a). We are to submit our lives totally to God’s dominion and care. We are to place ourselves completely under the lordship of Jesus. We are to follow the leadings of the Holy Spirit.
  • “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (Jas 4:7b). We are to know that envy and ambition are tools of the evil one. We must not allow ourselves to be placed under his control. Resist him and all temptations to do evil.

All the above is to be humble before God. Only in that way can God use us in the power of His Spirit. “Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you.” (Jas 4:10).

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