James 4:6-10 ESV
6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
We have arrived at verse six this morning. My approach to daily devotional time with God comes from the teaching of Robert J. Morgan. He is a well-known teacher, preacher, and author. His plan is simple, and is explained in his book entitled, “Simple.” The idea is to simply start reading where you left off the day before, and stop when something stands out, or speaks to you. Oh yeah, then journal about it.
I never thought it possible to sit down with the Bible, and then journal about what had been received. Maybe I thought it would be too much work for a daily practice. Maybe I didn’t think I was smart enough, or maybe it was just simply laziness. But God has been speaking to me through this crucially important time with Him and His Word. The “journaling” started sounding like a blog, so that is exactly what the process has turned into. I blog about my daily devotional time with God.
Here’s a side note for you. If you have never considered yourself to be much of a teacher, or if you struggle to understand the Bible as you read it, then sit down on quiet mornings with God, and read the book of James. It really is very practical, and so clearly written. I think you will be surprised at what God reveals.
Back to the task at hand. Did you notice my BUT in the previous sentences? I didn’t think it possible, BUT God did something in spite of my lack of confidence. I am not an English major. As a matter of fact, I struggle with the formalities of grammar during the writing process. Thankfully, God has blessed me with a wife, who is much smarter than I, when it comes to the things that should have been learned in school, so she proofreads my work.
The word BUT is used to introduce a phrase contrasting with what has already been mentioned. I didn’t think I would be successful at journaling about my daily devotions, BUT I have learned it is actually possible.
James, chapter four, verse six, literally begins with the word, BUT. In my humble opinion, this is one of those big BUTS that should receive special attention.
James spent the first five verses of this chapter talking about some root causes for our fights, quarrels, and double-mindedness. James tells us these, and other problems become apparent when we are seeking after our own sinful, selfish, and worldly passions, instead of seeking after God.
James calls us, “Adulterous!” Not because of a specific sexual sin, but because we are cheating on God. We claim to be serving God, and following after Christ, while we are also following the ways of the world. A woman wouldn’t put up with her husband cheating, so why would God?
I didn’t say much about this directly in the blog covering these first five verses, but James says, “Friendship with the world is enmity with God.” Well, he presented this thought in the form of a rhetorical question, but we get the idea.
Reading through these verses makes it sound hopeless, doesn’t it? Hold on! Remember verse six. James said, BUT. Let’s just go ahead and add verse six to the blog right here again: “But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’” James 4:6
This reminded me of our stories. We were all sinners, BUT God saved us. We were fornicators, liars, self-serving hypocrites, and __________ (you can fill in the blank), BUT God changed everything. God has grace, and lots of it, for those who seek after Him in humility. I believe there is some emphasis on the word, “humility.”
When Jesus walked on this earth as a man, He demonstrated this idea so clearly. Reading through the Gospels, we find Jesus having encounters with all kinds of people. Jesus revealed tremendous grace when people received His words in humility. However, when people rejected His teaching with arrogant hearts, because they couldn’t discard their own selfish desires, He let them walk away. God has more grace, mercy, and forgiveness than we can imagine, BUT we must be willing to accept His offer in humility.
James goes on to say, “Submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil. Draw near to God. Purify your hearts.” He actually tells us to “mourn” over the way we were living. I love verse ten. James said, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.”
In 1989, there was a movie released starring Rick Moranis called, “Honey, I Shrunk The Kids.” In the movie, Moranis’ character invents a ray gun machine capable of shrinking objects, and he accidentally shrinks his children. The neighbor children also get reduced in size, including the arrogant, and struggling teenage boy called, “Russ.” The whole movie was funny and entertaining, but many life-lessons were revealed as well. There was one thing in particular I noticed about “Russ.” He becomes humble, and through all the dangerous struggles the kids faced, he actually begins to open up and cultivate a meaningful relationship with the other kids. They all get drawn closer together than they ever could have imagined.
We should shrink ourselves, not on accident, but on purpose. We should shrink, or humble ourselves before the one, true God, and allow His grace to draw us closer to Him; closer than we ever imagined.