If you know me at all, you know one thing: I have OCD. I should probably seek some type of support group, but then I would have to help manage it and bring donuts so I probably won’t. I have issues with control. It is just my personality. The Lord is constantly trying to get it through my stubborn head that I, in fact, am not in control. Some times His ways are subtle, and sometimes they are like a blaring siren. Over the past seven and a half months of pregnancy, I have realized that I am not in control more and more. I have had morning sickness the entire time. This has led to me having to say “no” to some things, stepping back and allowing others to take the reigns, and trying to take care of myself. Now, I am no saint, but these are foreign concepts to me. I don’t like to bother anyone else. I’d rather accomplish the task as quickly and efficiently as possible and check it off my beautiful “to do” list. For some reason, I just feel guilty when I am not able to do everything I once had no problem doing. God has been so patient with me through this process, and I know the best is yet to come. This child will be a joy, but I know it will also be a tool that God uses to teach me; not just to let Him have control, but so much more. So I am desperately trying to grasp the lesson at hand. If I am a child of God, I have to give Him the lead.
This is much easier said than done. Our very nature resists the thought of allowing someone else to control us. Just think of our American culture. It’s a do-it-yourself society. We give great honor to those who work their way to the top. We are self reliant and independent. In essence, we are convinced that we can do it; whatever “it” is. Our longing to control our own destiny is a matter of pride. Did I just say that? Yes. Therefore, I really have an issue with pride. As much as I would love to make excuses for this and tie it up with a nice bow, Scripture simply won’t allow it. In fact, Scripture is quite offensive to my prideful nature. James 4:1-10 says, “What is the source of the wars and the fights among you? Don’t they come from the cravings that are at war within you? You desire and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and don’t receive because you ask wrongly, so that you may spend it on your desires for pleasure. Adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? So whoever wants to be the world’s friend becomes God’s enemy. Or do you think it’s without reason the Scripture says that the Spirit He has caused to live in us yearns jealously? But He gives greater grace. Therefore He says: God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Therefore, submit to God. But resist the Devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, sinners, and purify your hearts, double-minded people! Be miserable and mourn and weep. Your laughter must change to mourning, and your joy to sorrow. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you.” I don’t know about you, but this certainly doesn’t give me that warm, fuzzy feeling. Yet, why should it? God has given us His Word not to pat us on the back, but to show us our need for Him.
James is laying it out with no sugar coating included. There is a struggle within us; even as believers. He says God has put His Spirit within us, and that Spirit is jealous. God has a right to be jealous over us. He has bought us with the price of His son. James almost dares us to question this. As God’s children, we should be seeking to be right with Him. Instead, we get caught up in our own desires. This war inside is between our spirit and our flesh. It overflows into wars outside our body with other people. Our pride, opinions, and desires are what cause the fights with our husbands, our friends, our churches. We want things our way. We want pleasure more than righteousness. This is the key issue. We don’t ask God to make us right before Him. Instead, we come to Him with a prayer list that is actually a want list, and we expect Him to deliver those requests like He is Santa Claus. God is using James to remind us that we are committing adultery when we do this. We are being unfaithful to God with the world. When we choose to chase our own desires, we are becoming enemies of God. God does not approve of this world. No matter what the entertainment or leadership of our day says, God hates sin. He hates it because He is perfect. He hates it because of what it does to us. It separates us from Him. He wants to be with us. His longing is to have us blameless before Him. I love that though this comes across harshly God still reminds us that He gives greater grace (verse 6). He only gives it to the humble, however. Now, there is the dilemma. We are proud, but God only gives unmerited sanctification to those who humble themselves. We receive forgiveness for sins by submitting to Christ. We have to give Him complete authority over every part of our lives.
God knows the struggle is great. Remember that Christ was fully man and fully God. He knows temptation. We must resist the Devil, and the promise is that he will run away quickly from us if we do. The ball is in our court. The choice is ours. We have to be intentional about our relationship with Christ. When we draw near to Him, He draws near to us. What a blessing. God is not playing hide and seek. If we want to find Him, He is right before us ready to be found. The Holy Spirit, through James, makes it clear what we must do. The call is to repentance. We have to cleanse our lives, our hearts, and our minds. We have to turn away from our prideful nature that leads us to sin. The Word calls us to brokenness. We are told to mourn and weep. Our hearts need a genuine dose of conviction that moves us to change who we are. We must go from being a prideful people to ones who are humble before God. We must bring our hearts into alignment with Christ. When we do this, God lifts us up. He exalts our character; who we are. We are once again in a right relationship with Him; one in which He has all the control.
Remember that James is writing to the church; to believers. This message is for us. I don’t want to let my desire for control, my pride, keep me from knowing Christ fully. I don’t want it to create fights in my home or my church. If we desire to be a unified body of Christ, there is no room for pride. We must be humble and allow God to be our guide. Whatever is going on in your life, whatever you desire, whatever you want to control, take a look at it in light of James 4:1-10. Let God’s Word truly change you from the inside out. If there is one thing the world needs, the church needs, and I need, it is to repent. May God bless you and use you as you seek to give Him full control of your life. Have a great week!