Walk This Way
Week 7: James 4:1-12
God’s goal for our lives is maturity, completeness, and Christ-likeness. Our pursuit of that goal is an everyday process - like walking along God’s trail for us. In this week’s text, James sounds an alarm to warn us about a dangerous distraction that threatens to pull us away from God’s best for us. The danger comes from misplaced, worldly desires. When we seek satisfaction from the wrong things, we can lose sight of the trail markers and find ourselves lost, frustrated, and entangled in a mess of conflict. As a follower of Jesus Christ, we will enjoy true satisfaction when we cultivate a right heart toward God. He is the one that satisfies in the ways we long for. So what do we do when we find ourselves off the trail? We submit, humble ourselves, mourn over our sin, clean our hands, purify our hearts, stand up to the devil, and start living anew in the power of the Spirit. The great news is that God always stands ready with fresh supplies of grace. When we humble ourselves, he promises to pour that grace over us like a refreshing waterfall. He will get us back on the path to maturity and help us find a deeper satisfaction in him.
Can you think of a time when you were really focused on getting or achieving something only to find out later that the satisfaction was less than you hoped for?
Getting into the Text:
1. (James 4:1-3) Identify all of the times that the idea of unsatisfied desires appears in these verses. What are some of the consequences of having misplaced and unsatisfied desires according to James? Does the chaotic, frustrated scenario James describes here bear any resemblance to your own life experience at times?
2. (James 4:4) John 3:16 tells us that God loves the world and Jesus was referred to as a friend of sinners in Matthew 11:19. Yet here James says being a friend of the world is choosing to be an enemy of God. How do you reconcile these ideas? What do you think James has in mind by the phrase ‘a friend of the world’? See also 1 John 2:15-17.
3. (James 4:5-6) What does it mean for God to be jealous in this context? (See also Exodus 20:3-6.) What is God’s response to the proud according to James 4:6? What is his response to the humble? How are both of these responses motivated by God’s love? Which response do you feel you are experiencing right now?
4. (James 4:7-12) In light of what James has said in 4:1-6, what should we do next? Identify all of the recommended actions in these verses. What promises are embedded in this passage? What is the main source of satisfaction for someone who follows these instructions?
What do you really want right now? What is driving your choices, your prayers, and your interactions with others? What steps do you need to take to realign your desires with God’s desires for you and to become more satisfied in him? What specifically does it look like for you to submit, humble yourself, and draw near to God at this time in your life?