Our team has been studying James this semester and this was a question that our team discussed in devotions this past week. Will, asked us all to answer so we started at one end of the table and I was the next to last person in line to answer.
My first thought was “Oh, good! I have some time to think about what I’m going to say.” Then, my thought was, “Well, I better listen to what the others are saying because it is important.” Then, while the others were speaking, my flesh and the Spirit were warring in my heart. I knew that I didn’t have to think about what to say. I knew that there was one very big thing in my heart and life that caused me to be worldly; that caused me to be selfish and sinful! It was my fear. Of course, I didn’t want to say that out loud. The team already had heard me say that I struggle with fear and in fact, it was what I always mentioned. I didn’t want to say that I still struggle. What would they think of me? Would they think I’m a failure for not being able to conquer that specific area in my life? Would think that I’m an awful wicked sinner for not trusting in the Lord for my fears? I’ll probably cry when it is my turn to speak. Would they think I’m such a girl for crying? I do this every time! Would they look down on me and reject me? Would God be disappointed in me for saying the exact same thing over and over and over? What?! No, wait…
There it was…lying out there for God and me to see. My fear was oozing out of me like sin always does. It was gross and I hated it. I had to tell the team that I still struggle with fear and it causes me to be worldly. I still want to look good in front of people and I want people to think I’m godly and like Christ. Don’t get me wrong. Being Christ-like is not a bad thing, but “every Godward motion is opposed by the flesh.” What I mean by that is that most of the time my motive for being godly and Christ-like was so that others would see me and think “good” thoughts about me and like me because I was “spiritual.” When I told the team I did cry, but God was humbling me and loving me at the same time.
God sometimes uses our weaknesses in our hearts to show us how much we need Him. When our sin is exposed we find that we need the grace of Jesus. Christ died for the sin we have done, for the sin we are doing this very second, and for the sin we will do in the future. We don’t have to wallow in self-pity. We can rest in the love of Jesus and with His help we can change and become more like Christ. We certainly can’t do it ourselves. I relearn that every day. God has been teaching me to be humble. To realize that I will ALWAYS sin, but because I am saved by the grace of God through the shedding of blood of His Son on the cross, who died, rose and is coming again, I can conquer sin. I have already won because God is on my side. God is “cementing” my foundation in Christ! He is molding me to be more like His Son, Jesus!
What causes you to be worldly? In James 4:1 it says,
“From whence come wars and fightings among you? Come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?” Then, in James 4:4 it says, “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” When I read this, I am so moved because I realize that every time I sin, I act as an enemy against God. My God, who loves and calls me His own. Thankfully there is more because James 4:6-10 says, “But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.”
I will probably always struggle with fear, but I have Christ! If I humble myself and just be honest with God, seek after Him and confess to Him about my sin and struggles, He will use them to bring me closer to Himself. What an awesome God!