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God's Investment in You (James 4)

Have you ever been part of a “family meeting”? In this phenomenon, all members of the household agree again to rules and procedures that will help the family as a whole. Perhaps the parents have to address attitudes and behaviors. The topics are corrective, instructive, and may feel a bit disjointed. Somehow, we begin with laziness in chore duties, then review a conflict from last week, before announcing a new initiative to keep the pantry organized, only to end with the need for love and patience with each other. The book of James, especially chapters four and five, can feel this way too. In the case of family meetings, there is often an overriding message behind the sequence of issues, like, “We all need to think of ourselves less and pitch in more.” The fourth chapter of James likewise has a unifying message, even though it may be hard to discern.

In verse four, we see the black-and-white contrast of being friendly with the world and its ways versus being a friend of God and His ways. The apostle goes so far as to use the word “adulteresses” to describe those who become friendly with the world’s values and mindsets! Next, he makes a key statement. “Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: ‘He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us’” (4:5). Understanding Christ as the Bridegroom and His church as the bride, it is no stretch of the imagination to speak of “jealous desire” in the heart of God if He sees the world tempting us to spiritual adultery. This is indeed what the Scriptures say, that God is a jealous God; He longs that we worship only Him.

The same message is very alive in the New Testament. Paul writes, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought for a price: therefore glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). For every Christian, God has made an unfathomable investment in us. He died on the cross to secure the eternal redemption of our souls! His own blood is the price He paid. He made our bodies, our lives, into a temple where the third Person of God, the Holy Spirit, has made His home. The result of being a blood-bought temple of the Holy Spirit is that “you are not your own.” God places His Spirit in us, and He jealously desires that the Spirit have His way, that we live for God’s purposes. He deserves to receive the reward of this great investment!

Instead of the fruit of peace and patience, we can allow pleasures and lusts to take root, which result in quarrels and conflicts, envy and fighting (4:1-2). Instead of exhibiting faith through Spirit-filled praying, we can find ourselves bemoaning all that we lack, only to realize we never really asked God (4:2). When we ask, we may not receive, because God knows if He answers it, we will use it for ourselves (4:3). This selfish worldliness is not the life for which Jesus saved us!

Humility is the antidote that opens the floodgates to the grace of God, because humility surrenders (4:6). This looks like submitting to God and drawing near to Him, so we may experience His nearness. It looks like resisting the devil and watching him flee. It looks like cleansing our ways, purifying our motives, turning from double mindedness, and grieving not just over wrongs done to us, but over how we have hurt God by our own thoughts, words, action or inaction (4:7-10). It looks like focusing wholeheartedly on doing God’s will, rather than nitpicking how well others are doing it (4:11-12). Humility involves no longer boasting of our plans, callings, and futures, but submitting literally everything to “if the Lord wills” (4:13-16). Finally, it means committing to do the will of God in every area in which we know what is right, while deepening our understanding of His will as we seek to understand the Word more and pray more devotedly.

The motivation for this is nothing short of Christ Himself, the cross, and the indwelling Holy Spirit. I encourage you today to think on all God has done for you. In response, we ask, what can I do for you, Lord?

Pastor Alex

Teaching Pastor

The Rock Church

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