Text: James 4:1-10
Big Idea: “We combat worldly division by humbly submitting to God.”
1. Recognize my desires can cause division. (v. 1-3)
Quarrels and divisions are not just about actions. It is the desires of my heart. That’s what James is pointing to as the culprit. It’s not society. It’s not my upbringing. We can’t blame anything or anyone else for our divisions – the problem is my heart. This could mean wanting what is sinful, a good desire that I want too much, or a good desire pursuing the wrong way
(v. 2b-3) The solution is prayer. But not all prayer is pleasing to God. It really boils down to the desires of my heart. They are either about me or they’re about God. We are “asking wrongly” when we make it about us – when we try to bend God’s will to our own. It’s like saying, “God I’m asking you to do what I want, because what I want is best.” Instead, the kind of prayer that pleases God is one that comes from a posture of humility.
2. Reject worldliness. (v. 4-5)
“The world” in this context means those who reject Christ, unbelievers. So “worldliness” is to love the ways and things of the world more than God. To pursue what the world values instead of what God values. (See 1 John 2:15-16)
This could be the clothes we wear, the entertainment we consume, the issues we support, the way we spend our money, our attitude toward marriage, toward children, toward church, toward the Bible. What we value, what we find offensive, what we promote and what we reject. It affects everything.
We’ve become too cozy with the ways of the world, with the philosophies of the world. And James says the world’s way leads to destruction. Coveting, gossip, division, even murder. Sin leads to death. Worldliness is buying into the sinful world system, following what the fallen world says instead of what God’s Word says.
3. Repent and draw near to God. (v. 6-10)
When we are tempted to follow the world and be enticed by what the world has to offer, God gives more grace. We can’t stand against the world’s seduction on our own. But with God’s grace, we can. With the Holy Spirit inside us, we can. With the word of God at work in us, we can. Humble yourself before God, submit your will to Him, submit your desires to Him, and He promises to pour out His grace, and the devil has to flee!
Pride and selfish desires bring division among us. But the good news is humbling ourselves before God and repenting will bring grace, will bring healing, will bring cleansing, and it will bring unity to our hearts and our homes and our churches. God wants to pour out that grace on you today.