I heard a challenging quote once that went something like this, "sometimes an answered prayer is an act of God's judgement, and sometimes his refusal is an act of mercy for those he loves." Have you ever gotten exactly what you wanted and your life was worse off for it? How amazing is it that for all our wisdom and experience, we never truly know what's best for us.
In chapter 4, James continues his plea for us to change our motives and desires. He also continues to show the role man has in allowing God's transformation. Desires that are not given over to God have the potential to cause us harm and increase the suffering of those around us.
"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."
Resist the devil, submit to God, come to him and he will come to you... James is inviting us to desire change in ourselves. He is inviting us to see our ugliness and to do something about it. The only antidote for the poisonous parts of our humanity is toactivly seek goodness in God.
When we befriend the world we are are choosing to find satisfaction in it rather than God. We invite its influence, hopelessness, rather than God's influence, wholesomness. Why do we keep going to the same well over and over again if it's dry, God satisfies those who seek living water in him. You still have to get up, and go to the well...
Where did you seek satisfaction today?
What would it look like to seek satisfaction from God with the same vigor and consistency you seek from the world?
Written by Aleksandr Trbovich