God wants beauty for his church not the ugliness earthly or demonic wisdom produces when we quarrels and slander. James likens these quarrels to murder and adultery because we hate what we should love, we become faithless to God and his word. The antidote is not a conflict resolution program but repentance. In fact, the only thing within the church that makes the devil nervous is repentance he says. It is funny how our pride says we neeed to seek God in the heights, James remindes us that God is so humble that he is willing to draw near even to us. That the way up to God is first through the valley of humility and the change of reprentance. God has set himself low in the world.
Come near to God (in humility) and he (God who is himself humble and hates all arrogance) will come near to you… (4:8)
For further thought
There are four areas where James applies the humility of God’s wisdom to us…
4:1-10 – Come near to God in our desire and our prayer
4:11-12 – Come near to God in our speaking and judging
4:13-17 – Come near to God in our planning and arrogance
5:1-6 – Come near to God in our wealth and corruption
Q: What is the relationship between this passage and James’ description of the two kinds of wisdom in chapter 3?
Q: James uses forceful language to describe divisions in the church (4:2,4), misuse of our tongues (4:11), arrogance in business planning (4:16), and misuse of wealth (5:5). While there are passages in Jesus’ teaching that shed light on James’ passionate language (For example: Matthew 5:22; 7:1-5; 6:25-34; 25:31-46); what is James’ pastoral aim in speaking like this here?
Q: In 4:1-10, why are some prayers not answered?
Q: In verse 6 James says that God offers us more grace (yay!) – what steps does he go on to say enable us to receive that grace?
Q: What is common between the three topics James describes here?
Q: If we are not in the habit of listening carefully (1:19,20) how does that affect the words we use about others? (4.11)
Q: How could arrogance in our planning lead to evil? (4.16)
Q: Would humility and an awareness of God in our planning produce smarter decisions or not?
Q: James is not against wealth or wealthy people but he says there is a type of wealth that God despises and will bring undone. What are three characteristics of that type of wealth in 5:1-6?