What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure. You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God. Do you think the Scriptures have no meaning? They say that God is passionate that the spirit he has placed within us should be faithful to him. And he gives grace generously. As the Scriptures say, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor. Don’t speak evil against each other, dear brothers and sisters. If you criticize and judge each other, then you are criticizing and judging God’s law. But your job is to obey the law, not to judge whether it applies to you. God alone, who gave the law, is the Judge. He alone has the power to save or to destroy. So what right do you have to judge your neighbor?
Dear God, what would James have to say to today’s church? He was pretty upset in this passage. He emphatically called them adulterers. He told them they were living as a friend of the world. He told them they were fighting out of jealousy. He told them a lot of things.
For us, my judgment is that he would tell today’s church that it has lost its first love. The church today seems to put more faith in the power of political advantage than relying on you. I do it too. I want the strongest economy, the strongest military, etc. I am pro-life, so I want the government to take away abortion. I want all kinds of stuff, but I’d rather lean on the political power I can see and influence instead of leaning on you, who is beyond my influence.
Maybe that’s it. Maybe it’s about what we can influence vs. what we cannot influence. We cannot influence you. We can only worship you and listen for your call. We can only wait on your timing instead of forcing our own. Maybe that’s why I’m so bad at worshipping you. Maybe that’s why I create my idols—because my idols are an extension of my own ability to control an outcome. You, on the other hand, insist that I trust you and let go of my control, my life, and my agenda.
Father, I like to think I am apart from the overall “church.” Their sins are not my sins. I want to believe I am right and they are wrong. But the log in my eye is too huge for me to see the speck in the church’s eye. I am sorry. Help me to worship you well and listen for your call. Do it all for your glory’s sake, and not mine.
In Jesus’s name I pray,