“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you.”
James 4: 7-8a
James 4: 1-12
Conflict is a reality within our lives which is not always negative; if handled correctly conflict can lead to growth and improvement. A good number of us do not like such discord and will often work to avoid it, however there are a few of us who relish conflict and actively seek it out. There are many models within the academic, health and professional worlds that have been developed to manage conflict. One that I learnt and utilize directs us to Confront conflict, Understand it, Discuss it, look for Solutions to it and put Actions in place to deal with it.
In today’s passage James confronts conflict within the Church head on pointing to quarrels, covertness and fighting (vs. 1-2). He helps us to understand the cause of this antagonism by reintroducing the source; our hearts (1: 14, 4: 1b, 3). Even when we try and bring the Lord into the situation, answers do not always come because our motives are wrong; we seek our good, our wishes and not God’s glory (3). James takes the discussion to a deeper level explaining that our hearts our married to the world’s principles which are opposed to God as are the principalities and powers that exist (vs. 4 & 7). Wonderfully solutions are given to us. God gives us His Grace and His Spirit to forgive us and help us overcome the old nature and spirit within us (vs. 7-8). We are to submit to God and resist the devil. In this submission we grieve the poverty of our spirit and humble ourselves (again, something of the Beatitudes here). This in turn leads to joy and a deeper closeness to God (vs. 9-10). This change in our hearts should lead to action. We should not slander our brothers and sisters nor judge them or our neighbours (vs.11-12). God’s work in us will produce fruit if it is authentic.
The restrictions on our lives and freedom is leading to conflict in our world, society, communities, families and churches. In some ways this can actually be a time of opportunity to show God’s power and love in reality. If Christ’s body could obey God in the way James details, true witness, encouragement and hope would flavour our lives and give glory to God. Growth and blessing could come out of conflict; do we have the wherewithal to follow in Christ’s footsteps? Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.
To Ponder: is there conflict in your life and circumstances? What does you reaction to it reveal about your heart and motives? Apply the C.U.D.S.A model with James’ directions to your situation. What actions is God calling you take?
Pray: Almighty God, in your Grace, and by your Spirit reveal the condition of our hearts and help us to understand our motives. Enable us to submit to you and seek your forgiveness as we humble ourselves before you. Turn our grief to joy and our hearts to you that we may live in unity within the Body of Christ to your glory. Amen
Praise: Purify my Heart (Refiner’s fire)
My Faith looks up to Thee sung by the Vagle brothers
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.