Changing Conflict into Humility, James 4:1-17

This is my installment for the Blogger Small Group post (on chapter 4) and there is still time for anyone to join in if they like (see Blogger Small Group Rules/Guidlelines). Right now we are four weeks into a study on James, not need to try and catch up, just start in the same place we are and post your opinions.

You really have to love how James just cuts right to it and is so direct. I think this is somewhat lost in our world today. If we are direct, we usually end up offending someone or worse. But, this week, we read James, Chapter 4, and he was direct.

From the Book of James, Chapter 4

James gets right to it with this chapter, so I will dive right in. This chapter can be broken up into three pieces, (1) Changing Conflict into Humility (4:1-6), (2) Changing Judgment From Us to God (4:7-12), and (3) Changing Boasting into Believing (4:13-17). I will take these three sections and discuss each below.

Changing Conflict into Humility (4:1-6)

James can be so practical, he gives us a cause of conflict (v.1-2), a consequence of conflict (v.3-4), and then a cure for conflict (v.5-6). James seems to cringe at the very nature of conflict between Believers here, and it is something we can all learn from, and remember.

The verse that really stands out to me, is verse 3. I am not a big fan of drive-by, rub the lucky penny of prayer and you will get it kind of thing. Here, James tells us why, when we do ask, we do not receive. It is all in our motives. God knows when our motives are pure and when they are self serving.

3You ask and (D)do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.

At the end of this section, James gives us no doubt about the truth at all: GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE. Even the writers and editors of the early scripture understood the importance and use of CAPS, amazing.

5Or do you think that the Scripture (I)speaks to no purpose: “[a]He jealously desires (J)the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us”?

6But (K)He gives a greater grace Therefore it says, “(L)GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.”

I love the fact that our God is a jealous God. He wants our attention, because He wants what’s best for us.

Changing Judgment From Us to God (4:7-12)

Judgment is something that talks to all of us I think. How many ways do we have to judge others. Countless ways. He has red hair, a tattoo, she has piercings, he cusses, she drinks, the list is endless. One thing that God requires is justice, not judgment. Judgment is supposed to be left up to Him, not me.

In this first part of this section, James gives us advice on how to handle judgment of others. Some key words that pop out to me are flee, draw near, purify, and many others, but we are to resist the temptation and try to bring ourselves nearer to God.

11(U)Do not speak against one another, (V)brethren He who speaks against a brother or (W)judges his brother, speaks against (X)the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not (Y)a doer of the law but a judge of it.

What is really amazing is how well scripture falls into place with our current lives. The verse above is what we have been studying as a church, and its importance is clear to those of us who tried to use wise words yesterday, but are still trying. Here it shows up again, speak kindly to each other.

Change Boasting to Believing (4:13-17)

James was speaking to Believers when we was talking about boasting. How much of pumping ourselves up is involved with our daily walk? James gives us a great solution to our boasting, change it into belief.

15Instead, you ought to say, “(AF)If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” 16But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; (AG)all such boasting is evil.

But it is the last part of this section that really hits home. I think many times as Believers we try to discover what is sin. What is the definition of is, is (without trying to be to political). I think we tend to try to figure out what is and isn’t sin, and try to ride the line right down the middle. Get as close to it (sin) as we can without going over. This isn’t the intention, I don’t think, but perhaps we all do this to some extent.

Here James tells us. Anything we know to be the right thing to do and we don’t do it. That is pretty convicting to me. Just because we know what is right to do doesn’t mean we always follow through, but now, James tells us, to us, this is sin.

17Therefore, (AH)to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.

I can give a real example of what I think he is saying here. Take fasting. Are we commanded to fast. No. But if through our daily walk, we discover that the Lord has put it on our heart to fast, and we don’t, we are living in sin at that time.

This means we have to listen. We may not want to, and at times I know I don’t ask, because I don’t want to know the answer. James here tells us to be careful doing this. Great stuff.

Some Other Posts From the Group

You can always go to the main group page at the top and see all the posts. As of this writing, here are a few that have already posted, be sure to visit their site and comment as well.

There is still room for more and time to jump in at any point.

Update:

I was trying to keep it as short as I could (and you see how long it is), so I didn’t really get to my point very well on going from boasting to belief, thanks for giving me a chance to clarify.

In the last half of the chapter, James is speaking about being boastful. He gives us a statement on boasting (v.13), then tells us how it effects us (v.14), that is “time is not our own, it is God’s”, we need a Godly perspective, no an earthly one (if that makes sense).

Then, James gives us a solution to boasting (v.15-17). We can avoid boastful attitudes by maintaining a Godly perspective (v.14). James to “boast and brag… is evil”, so self-centered bragging (being boastful) needs to be replaced by… belief.

So, the cure for being boastful is belief (or being God centered).

I did a little to much studying on this chapter, probably should have gone a little more with my heart, didn’t mean to confuse.

5 thoughts

  1. I like your point of “One thing that God requires is justice, not judgment.” I never really thought of it this way… justice vs. judgement.

    Another question for you though… you talked about how we try to figure out what sin IS and go on to say, “Anything we know to be the right thing to do and we don’t do it.” As I walk through this, I cannot help but wonder that if I am trying to figure out what sin is, then I am also trying to figure out what the “right thing” to do is.

    Just trying to bring some dialog to the post. love your thoughts and you make me look at things a little bit differently than I have to date.

    Michaels last blog post..James 4

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  2. @Michael you made me realize that I did not finish my thought, good grief. What I was thinking when I said that was we try to figure out what is sin, so we can just ride along the edge of it and balance not getting our feet wet, that kind of thing.

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  3. “James was speaking to Believers when we was talking about boasting. How much of pumping ourselves up is involved with our daily walk? James gives us a great solution to our boasting, change it into belief.”

    What was your thought on boasting here? I’m not sure I understand this one. How can you change the kind of boasting James is talking about into belief?

    Heath Spurlocks last blog post..Pondering James 4…..

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  4. Heath, I was trying to keep it as short as I could (and you see how long it is), so I didn’t really get to my point very well, thanks for giving me a chance to clarify.

    In the last half of the chapter, James is speaking about being boastful. He gives us a statement on boasting (v.13), then tells us how it effects us (v.14), that is “time is not our own, it is God’s”, we need a Godly perspective, not an earthly one (if that makes sense).

    Then, James gives us a solution to boasting (v.15-17). We can avoid boastful attitudes by maintaining a Godly perspective (v.14). James to “boast and brag… is evil”, so self-centered bragging (being boastful) needs to be replaced by… belief.

    So, the cure for being boastful is belief (or being God centered).

    I did a little to much studying on this chapter, probably should have gone a little more with my heart, didn’t mean to confuse.

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  5. “I think many times as Believers we try to discover what is sin. What is the definition of is, is (without trying to be to political). I think we tend to try to figure out what is and isn’t sin, and try to ride the line right down the middle. Get as close to it (sin) as we can without going over. This isn’t the intention, I don’t think, but perhaps we all do this to some extent.”

    Hmmm, seems to me there’s something in Scripture about “fleeing all appearance of evil” or something like that. You might be on to something here.

    Jeff M. Millers last blog post..Time out

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