Think about the last time you had a serious disagreement with somebody else—in your family, in your church, at work.
How did you behave? Were you a humble peacemaker? Or did you dig your heels in, letting your own wants and needs take priority over everybody else’s? And at the end of the day, was it worth it?
Sometimes we don’t see how trivial our battles and desires are until someone puts them in perspective—and reminds us that this behavior is actually the antithesis of acting “Christ-like.” In the epistle below, the early church leader James confronts the church with their infantile behavior.
What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us? But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:
“God opposes the proud
but shows favor to the humble.”
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. — James 4:1-10 (NIV)
Questions to Consider
- Do you identify with the people that James is chastising? How so?
- How would you react if someone wrote you the modern day equivalent of this letter? Could you bear the harsh criticism and the call to action? Or would you reject James’ rebuke?
- We live in a world that lauds pride, power and money, yet God “opposes the proud.” Is it possible to adhere to God’s word and still fit within society?
- What’s one practical way you can humble yourself this week?