“What a friend we have in Jesus,” a classic hymn rejoices, “all our sins and griefs to bear! What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer! Oh, what peace we often forfeit, oh, what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer!”
Who wouldn’t want our loving Savior and His Almighty Father as friends? In our reading today, James tells us how. The key is to refuse to pursue worldliness (v. 4). Friendship with the world and friendship with God are mutually exclusive. We cannot play both sides. Unfortunately, as Old Testament history reveals, God’s people are often “adulterous” or unfaithful. This theme would have been familiar to James’s original Jewish readers, because the prophets frequently employed marriage and prostitution as metaphors for God’s relationship with His people (for examples, see Jer. 3:1; Hosea 3:1).
Selfish pleasures and worldly pursuits are a form of idolatry. They take the place of God in our hearts. God has always longed for His unfaithful people to return to Him, and in this sense He is “jealous” (v. 5). He continues to call His people to the joys of a close relationship with Him, which is worth the cost of any suffering or rejection by the world.
Despite our sinfulness and divided allegiances, God’s grace never runs out (v. 6). There is always more of it, and ultimately it will win the day. The pursuit of selfish pleasures and worldliness is rooted in pride, which is the core of what makes one an enemy of God. The pursuit of friendship with God, on the other hand, must be rooted in humility (see also 3:13). We can only know ourselves in relation to Him, and the more we grow toward spiritual wholeness, the more we find humility to be the only appropriate posture.
Today, let’s praise God for our Student Services. Jeremiah Hill, Janet Gibbs, and Kathryn Passon provide students with speedy answers to any school related questions. Please join us in thanking God for their hard work and invaluable service.