There are beautiful seasons in ministry in which you hear constant news about how the gospel is changing lives, redeeming marriages, transforming hearts, building community, driving mission, and creating a culture of grace.
There are also heart-wrenching seasons in ministry in which you hear about absolute wreckage: suffering families, hurt and pain in church member’s lives, rebellion against God, and the devastating reality of sin in people’s lives.
It is excruciating to see people you love give in to the devil, believe his lies, fall into sin, and invite utter wreckage into their lives. God knows full well this reality and this temptation. It typically happens to those who think it can’t happen to them. God is not surprised, he saw it coming. So he has filled the Bible with warnings and exhortations for us to hold onto and plant deep in our hearts.
4 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.
The sad reality is that when we rebel and disobey God, we invite wreckage into our lives. God doesn’t tell us not to sin because he doesn’t want us to have good things. God’s laws are because he loves us… and he knows that He is what is best for us. When we run, rebel, and reject that reality we invite pain and suffering into our lives that can bring devastation.
It is easy to buy into lies such as,
- If you do this one thing, you will be happier.
- They hurt you, you deserve this…
- God wants you to have what you want.
- You have been good for a long time, it is okay to indulge.
- “Did God really say?”
We know it is easy to fall into this because all of us do it.
James 4:4 sounds harsh. It is strong, it is serious, and it has profound implications. But, listen to the next verse…
5 Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”?
What emotion does God have in the midst of us being an “adulterous people?” What emotion does God feel when, despite his faithfulness to us, we are befriending the world and walking away from our friendship with God? He is jealous for you…
It is not without purpose that the Scriptures say, “He yearns jealously over the spirit he has made to dwell with us,” God deeply desires that our spirit, which he gave us, worships him and walks with him in such a way that we can be called his friend. God’s primary emotion to us, when we are inviting in wreckage is, “I love you, I am jealous for you, draw near to me and I WILL draw near to you.”
In our unfaithfulness, we invite wreckage. But, when we humble ourselves, submit ourselves to God, and draw near to Him, he does something amazing…
- He forgives us our unfaithfulness.
- He brings sweetness to our devastation.
- He brings beauty to the wreckage..
- He gives grace to the humble.
- He pardons us from our sin and rebellion.
- He cleanses us within.
We can certainly be an adulterous people. But God is standing there, full of jealousy, beckoning us to draw near to him. He whispers to us softly, “Humble yourselves before the Lord and I will exalt you.”
Only God is able to both save and destroy. We do not have to invite wreckage into our lives and we do not have to settle for a life of enmity with God. He will draw near to us. His desire is not to oppose us as we fill ourselves with pride, his desire is to give us grace as we humble ourselves before Him and submit to him.
After verse 4 warns us that friendship with the world makes us an enemy of God, verse 5 tells us God is jealous for us, and then verse 6 starts out saying, “But he gives more grace.” Folks, he gives more grace. We invite wreckage, we befriend the world, yet out of his jealous love for us he gives more grace. Let us humble ourselves and draw near to God… For he gives more grace.
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that is greater than all our sin.