James 4:1, Romans 12:2, James 4:6-10
Relationships are a big deal to us. Often the drama that unfolds in the lives of the youth group concerning who wants to go out with who, who has broken up, fallen out, cheated on or 'giving evil looks to' rivals that of any Eastenders or Corrie script. In fact relationships are a big deal to all of us. It's not surprising since we are made to live in relationship; it's not good to be alone.
In the book of James we can read some straight talking words. He asks, 'What is causing the quarrels and fights among you?' and then gives an answer. It's from our own evil desires, jealousies, and friendship with the world.
It's not that we shouldn't have friendships with the people of the world, but that we shouldn't hold close to ourselves the world's way of thinking and living. The Bible instructs us, 'Don't copy the behaviour and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect' (Romans 12:2)
The way we are in our relationships will show how we are being transformed, and quite honestly God uses the people in our lives in the transformation process. When the Holy Spirit produces the fruit in our lives of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, these things are shown in our relationships with people aren't they? We need this fruit in our lives in order to live well with people.
Central is our relationship with God; get this relationship right and we will be more able to have good relationships with others. 'Come close to God and He will come close to you'. This encouragement comes in the middle of some more straight talking from James. These are harsh words at first reading, but God can speak to us from them by arresting our attention and having us think in more depth about the condition of our heart.
'God opposes the proud but favours the humble. So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honour.' James 4:6-10
When a close relationship with Father God is our priority these are not depressing words. When being transformed to be more like Jesus and allowing the fruit of the Spirit to grow is important to us then these are not judgemental words. A proud heart will be offended by them, but the Lord loves a humble heart and He calls us to come close to him.
Maybe our hands are dirty, but they can be cleaned. Perhaps our loyalty is divided, but it can be realigned. A humble heart is what is required and a desire to come close to God. May we all today reflect on these words from James and may we turn ourselves closer to God in heart and action and know He comes closer to us.
New Life Church
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