Submit, Resist, Draw Near, Wash, Purify, Grieve, Mourn and Wail, Change, Humble Yourselves. That’s a TALL order…
28 A lying tongue hates those it hurts, and a flattering mouth works ruin. We must be honest with ourselves.
We have discussed before James 4:7, which says,
7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
What we haven’t discussed are the next three verses,
8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
James invites us to encounter God as we may never have before: Seeing ourselves in truth. Notice that I didn’t say, “As God sees us.” Yes, He sees us in truth, but He chooses to see us as His little children (Matthew 18:12-14; “little ones” is a term of endearment, as in “you of little faith”, which actually means, “my little faithless ones”; the same goes for Mark 9:42). We tend to be strong-willed, independent, entitled, and proud. James says, “Look in the mirror! Compare yourselves to Christ and change” (James 1:23-25). Let’s break down the passage:
- Come or draw near- the word picture suggests that we have wandered away from His side. It’s bigger than that; He is facing us, but we won’t respond to His love. As with salvation, we must relent to His love and respond by submitting to that love. All of this action happens in our minds.
- Wash your hands- let go of what we are doing that keeps us from turning and drawing near to God.
- Purify your hearts- quit entertaining other gods in our hearts. We are to be one-God people. To think that we can love and serve God adequately while also serving ourselves is double-minded. We’ve seen that word before in 1:8, where James tells us that we must ask with the intention of using the wisdom given us; to ask with no intention of using that wisdom, or waiting to hear it before making our decision (playing god), is being double-minded.
- Grieve, mourn and wail- this is what little children do when they are separated from their parents. It is what we should do when we realize that we are separated–not by His choice–from the Father in fellowship.
- Laughter to mourning, joy to gloom- When we realize that we are out of fellowship with the Father, we lose our joy, which causes us to lose our laughter, which causes us to mourn.
- Humble yourselves- realize that we are little children spiritually (we never get out of the nursery). By remembering who is God and who is not (us), we are finally in a position to move to the Father’s side again.
- He will lift you up- our PROMISE! Abba will pick us up and hold us close. Fellowship is restored! Everything reverses: gloom is gone and joy is back; we get our laughter back! I think we laugh with the Father as He rejoices over us (Zephaniah 3:17).
A friend of mine told me that when walking in the dark, stay close to the person carrying the lantern. Jesus is our Light. Let’s draw near and stay close to Him.
Abba, I am not offended by the term, “dear little children.” In fact, I take great solace in it! The fact that I am Your child is enough to send me into orbit. Thank You! Thank You! Thank You for redeeming me. You ransomed* me from the pit and brought me into a wide, stable place: by Your side. May I stay there–and with Your assistance, I will. Amen.
*Old French/English-it does mean to buy back, but it also means “to take back.” Its origins are “to undo, to redeem, to restore.” We find this picture in the Scriptures when God took back the people of Israel from Pharaoh, the strong man binding the owner of the house in Matthew 12:29, and Jesus on the cross.