Having introduced his definition of “Wisdom From Above,” James now gives a warning against the opposite, which is immersion in “Worldliness”:
“What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions” (Jam 4:1-3).
Disunity with each other quickly becomes disunity from God when disagreements escalate to quarrels and fights among believers. James observes that divisive quarrels within the church are born by sinful passions from the world outside the church. James harshly equates quarrels and fights with murder, at least figuratively, as in killing another person’s opinion on how to solve a problem in the church. This is worldly passion at war within us:
“You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, ‘He yearns jealousy over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us’” (Jam 4:4-5; Gal 5:17)?
We are the bride of Christ, and when we fight we are breaking our vows of chastity before our Savior. The believer I am arguing with is the bride of Christ too. So we are committed to obeying our “husband” as if we are one person, not two. God gave us the Holy Spirit to completely reject conflict in the church. James is asking us, “Which part of Scripture do we no believe?”
“But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you” (Jam 4:6-10).
This is a call to repentance, just as seriously as if we have committed murder or adultery. This is a moment for shame and conviction of sin. And it is a moment to pursue reconciliation before it is too late!
“Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor” (Jam 4:11-12).
Elevate what James is saying to the schisms and splits in the church of Jesus Christ over the centuries. If ever there was a convicting way of observing the fork in the road to perfect unity with God and with each other, it is here – in how we treat each other when we have differing opinions on an issue.
As this blog has forced me to go back and look, I grieve. Yes, I have judged. And yes, I have been judged.
We stand at the fork in the road to perfect unity. We must choose sincere repentance as the bride of Christ if we are ever to find the unity Jesus prayed for, so that the world will know that God loves them as much as he loves us!
Peace, my brothers and sisters!