And even when you do ask, you don’t get it because your whole motive is wrong – you want only what will give you pleasure.
You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with this world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again, that if your aim is to enjoy this world, you can’t be a friend of God. What do you think the Scriptures mean when they say that the Holy Spirit, whom God has placed within us, jealously longs for us to be faithful? He gives us more and more strength to stand against such evil desires. As the Scriptures say, “God sets himself against the proud, but he shows favor to the humble.”
So humble yourselves before God. Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you. Draw close to God, and God will draw close to you…When you bow down before the Lord and admit your dependence on him, he will lift you up and give you honor. James 4:2b-8a, 10
Here are the notes in my bible
Note on verses 2, 3
James mentions the most common problems in prayer: not asking, asking for the wrong things, or asking for the wrong reasons. Do you talk to God at all? When you do, what do you talk about? Do you ask only to satisfy your desires? Do you seek God’s approval for what you already plan to do? Your prayers will become powerful when you allow God to change your desires so that they perfectly correspond to his will for you (1 John 3:21, 22).
Note on verses 3, 4
There is nothing wrong with wanting a pleasurable life. God gives us good gifts that he wants us to enjoy (1:17; Ephesians 4:7; 1 Timothy 4:4,5). But having friendship with the world involves seeking pleasure at others’ expense or at the expense of obeying God. Pleasure that keeps us from pleasing God is sinful; pleasure from God’s rich bounty is good.
Note on verses 4-6
The cure for evil desires is humility (see Proverbs 16:18, 19; 1 Peter 5:5, 6). Pride makes us self-centered and leads us to conclude that we deserve all we can see, touch, or imagine. It creates greedy appetites for far more than we need. We can be released from our self-centered desires by humbling ourselves before God, realizing that all we really need is his approval. When the Holy Spirit fills us, we see that this world’s seductive attractions are only cheap substitutes for what God has to offer.
Note on verses 7-10
How can you draw near to God? James gives five ways: (1) Humble yourselves before God (4:7). Yield to his authority and will, commit your life to him and his control, and be willing to follow him. (2) Resist the Devil (4:7) Don’t allow Satan to entice and tempt you. (3) Wash your hands…and purify your hearts (that is, lead a pure life) (4:8). Be cleansed from sin, replacing your desire to sin with your desire to experience God’s purity. (4) Let there be sorrow and deep grief for your sins (4:9). Don’t be afraid to express deep heartfelt sorrow for what you have done. (5) Bow down before the Lord, and he will lift you up (4:10; 1 Peter 5:6).
Note on verse 10
Bowing before the Lord means recognizing that our worth comes from God alone. To be humble involves leaning on his power and his guidance, and not going our own independent way. Although we do not deserve God’s favor, he wants to lift us up and give us worth and dignity, despite our human shortcomings.
So many good notes today, all describing such incredible and profound explanations of God’s Word. There is not a whole lot for me to add, yet as I read over this scripture, I always love the part about drawing near to God and He will draw near to you.
I’ve often told others, just take that first step and Jesus, walking right beside you will also take that step. The key is that He wants us to take the first step. Not that we are the guide, but that we are making the effort.
Another way to look at it is that we are meeting Jesus in the middle, so to speak. When I take that first step, then Jesus will take a step towards me. My favorite illustration comes from Corrie Ten Boom. I think that I’ve talked about it one other time, maybe one of the times I wrote about forgiveness. The short version: she needed to offer forgiveness to a man but at that moment would have rather died than do so. She even battled it out with God for that seemingly endless moment. But, she was obedient , struck out her hand in forgiveness and when the man took her hand, all of a sudden, God filled her with the proper emotions of forgiveness for that man.
I’ve seen Jesus work in my life like this too, though for some reason, He seems to prefer to work in me over time instead of instantaneously. I wish He were more instant with me, but it seems that I take a while to digest and learn what He’s teaching. So instead of the “instant emotions,” I take the first step and then I have a little better image, attitude, thought, emotion or whatever. Then, I have to take another step and it gets a little better, then another step, etc until all of a sudden, I no longer have the negative feelings or emotions that I once had.
I suppose the key is humbling myself before Jesus and believing that as long as I submit to His will, regardless of how hard it may be to let go of my judgmental, grudge filled attitude, God will change me and make me whole by providing in my heart a clean heart and all the appropriate and God filled feelings towards, say my husband, or anyone else that has offended me. God, wants me to want to do His will and so I must demonstrate it by taking that first step. My reward, an new heart filled with God’s goodness.
So, am I humbled before God? I must be humbled before I can attempt to draw near to Him. Do I wholeheartedly have a desire to draw near to Him? One of my favorite hymns is “Nearer my God to Thee.” Oh, how I love that hymn. It certainly is my desire. Though, lately I have forgotten. I renew my commitment to draw near to Jesus, do you?
Nearer my God to thee, Nearer to thee
Ev’n tho it be a cross that raiseth me
Still all my dreams shall be, Nearer my God to thee
Nearer my God to thee, Nearer to thee.
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life. Psalm 139:23-24
May God provide the increase.