7-10So let God work his will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper. Say a quiet yes to God and he'll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field. Hit bottom, and cry your eyes out. The fun and games are over. Get serious, really serious. Get down on your knees before the Master; it's the only way you'll get on your feet.
(James 4:7-10 The Message)
The book of James may be a short five chapters, but it is crammed full of some pretty awesome life principles that we really need to wrap our minds and hearts around. The fourth chapter begins with the question: "So where do you think all these wars and quarrels come from?" The thing James wants to show us is that they don't "just happen". I remember the first time that I saw that bumper sticker that loudly proclaimed "STUFF happens" (only it is the other "s" word that was displayed there!). I just shook my head and wondered at the simplicity of believing that "stuff" just happens - without anyone being in control, without intention of any sort, or without any involvement of our own in the process!
James presents a pretty straight-forward answer to the question he poses - we quarrel and end up in war because we don't get our own way. We don't get what we wanted, we don't ask God for it, and we think that we have to get everything we want! Ummm....earth to reader....not everything we want is really all that good for us to have! James puts it this way: "What he gives in love is far better than anything else you'll find" - meaning that when we actually listen to God, seek his direction, and stop demanding our own way, we get the best of the best in turn.
So, that brings us right up to our passage today. I will ask you to do me a favor here - read the passage aloud and add your name into it. Like this: "So let God work his will in you, Lauretta. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper. Say a quiet yes to God, Lauretta, and he'll be there in no time." Got the idea? Somehow, when we personalize the scripture, it begins to impact us differently. There are some very practical steps to growing in Christ that James outlines - here they are:
- Get really serious with the enemy of your soul! It is time that we let Satan know that we are serious about our walk with Christ. He needs to hear it every step of the way that we are not inviting him on this journey! Sometimes the only way to get rid of someone we don't really want to have "hang around" with us is to be straight-forward that we don't want that person around!
- Submit to God! That is what it means to say "yes" to God. Submit is such a misunderstood word these days - we almost don't hear it spoken much anymore. Simply put, it means that we invite God to have the ultimate authority over the actions of our lives.
- Quit dabbling in sin! The word "dabble" means to "play in it" like a small child gleefully splashes the water in the tub! We often believe the we can "play" a little with sin and not be affected by it, but water gets you wet no matter how much of it you splash!
- Quit playing the field! Ummm...in other words, stop "dating" two people at the same time! God is simply stating that he will not play second fiddle to anyone or anything else in your life!
- Purify your inner life! Why is this so important? Easy - all action begins with thought. Get the thoughts in order and the actions will follow. Getting rid of those things that pollute our thinking is paramount to walking right. If you don't know what those "polluting" things are, ask someone who has walked with Christ a while and is actively growing - they'll give you some hints!
- Hit bottom! Get serious with God! What is your lowest point in life? Have you reached it? You may find yourself there right now. If so, there is no place else to turn than to God. At that point of despair is the greatest hope for our lives. Reach out to him and he will pull you close into his love, grace, and restoration.
I could probably pull a few other thoughts from this passage, but I will leave that to you and God to find the rest! Just remember, at the bottom nothing looks good. It is in looking up from the bottom that we find the light we so desperately need!