Summary: James is writing this book to Christians who have scattered out from Jerusalem. He covers multiple concepts throughout this book, but they can be boiled down to “being doers of the word and not just hearers” and “withstanding the trials”. Due to Christian persecution & poverty the church has broken into factions that are at odds with each other and causing some to fail at putting their faith into practice.
(V. 1-10) In these verses James is pointing out problems that arise when we try to pursue friendship with the worldly system we live in! Our sinful flesh pushes us to focus on worldly things over the mission of God and when we do this it causes conflict with others, conflict in us, and conflict with God. When we focus on building God’s kingdom and living on mission we tend to fight about worldly things less because our hearts and minds are set on God’s kingdom above! James says stay focused!
(V. 11-12) Here, James refers back to how we talk to one another and how it matters to God! Worldly speech such as gossip and slander do two things. One it discourages others and two it dishonors God. When we dishonor others with our words it kills community and stirs up trouble in the church. God wants us to use our words in a way that build up His church not tear it down. This not only tears others down but it dishonors God and His command love your neighbor as yourself. James says watch your words!
(V. 13-17) James closes chapter 4 with reminding us that at the end of the day we want control of our lives the way we think we are. God is ultimately in control and He wants us to not just add Him into our plans but instead let God lead us in every plan that we make! This is hard sometimes, but remember we are bought with a price and our life is not our own, when making plans don’t make them and add God to them but build them around God. James says Seek God’s will in all you do! (Psalm 16:11)
- How has your week been spiritually?
- What is God teaching you?
- What sins are you struggling with that you need to confess?
- (V. 1-2) - Fights and quarrels come from selfish desires that battle within us! The first thing James points to is us not others!
- Why do you think James points inward to our own selfish desires instead of pointing the finger at others around us?
- Have you ever experienced your own selfishness and desires to be the root of your fights and arguments between you and your spouse, your kids, your friends? Explain
- (V. 4-6) - James warns us that we can’t pursue friendship with this worldly system and the desires of our flesh and expect to please God and grow closer to him. We can’t be lovers of this world and lovers of God.
- What are some way that you get caught up pursuing things of this world over pursuing God?
- How does it effect your walk with God?
- How does it effect you personally?
- How does it effect your relationship with others?
- (V.13-17) - You say things like today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there , carry on business and make money. Why you don’t even know what will happen tomorrow. James points out that instead of making plans and being focussed on our will instead we should focus on God’s will and adjust to him. We all struggle sometimes, going through life, minding our own business and making our own plans, and, if we’re honest, we can leave God out of them or add Him to them. God wants to be front and center of every decision we make as a Christian.
- What are some examples you have of making plans without God or just simply crafting Him into the plans you already make?