by Rev. Dee Miller – Visitation Pastor / Valpo FUMC
Do you struggle with which direction in life to go? We all struggle every day to keep our focus on God and His wisdom. Temptations are everywhere. Social media is always putting some temptation to spend money; to join a rant about some cause; or to spend money on some great product that turns out to be a scam. It is James’ intent in this passage to show us the direction by imperatively grabbing us with the essential desire to honor God and relate to people. This calls us to direct, hands-on action without delay. We are to humble ourselves before God and, at the same time, resist the devil, as we cannot serve both. When we draw near to God, the devil is pushed further away. If we draw near to the devil, then God is pushed further away. The signpost is clear where we are to go; the direction we choose is up to us.
God wants us to make the fervent attempt to repent, get right with Him, and not lead a double life in trying to serve two contradictory paths in life. When we do, we are being hypocritical, creating broken relationships, shattered lives, and unmet opportunities. This leaves us in despair as the devil and our ways have no hope or purpose other than to steal what God has to give to us. We already have joy and completeness in Christ when our hearts and minds are centered on Him. So, the bottom line of this passage is the call to submit and surrender to God, allowing Him to be our only Lord and direction. Then, He will lift us up beyond our greatest desires and plans to a much greater plan and purpose in life!
Verse 7 asks us the crucial question: are we resisting God or resisting the devil? How we respond to life and other people will be rooted in how we respond to God. Do we fight Him or do we glorify Him? How do we know? The answer is in how we are with our attitudes and mindsets; are we humble or proud? If we are proud, we are serving the devil, even though we may think we are serving ourselves. If we are humble, then we are serving our Lord. This strikes at the root of our mindset and motivation in life.
Several years ago, I worked with peoples who had addictions that they were trying to overcome through a Bible based step program. These men and women were abundantly honest with how difficult their task was in life to oppose the evil one and to stay focused on God. Daily prayer with their prayer partner and hourly scripture readings helped them stay focused throughout the day as they worked hard to stay steady in avoiding their addictions. We talked about when you give a problem to God in prayer, do Not insult Him by taking the problem back if He doesn’t answer your prayer fast enough OR if His answer isn’t something you are willing to do. Also, while you are waiting for Him to answer your prayers, remember that no answer is an answer. He may just be trying to show you how strong you are when He makes you practice patience and strengthen you faith in Him. Each person, worked hard to resist their addictions and turn their lives over to God for help and perseverance. Today, six of the ten are still free of their addictions and are leading Christ focused productive lives. All have a routine each day that keeps them focused on the God of hope, love and mercy who they Praise as they oppose the temptations the evil one tries to lure them with. They let God work in their lives to refine them and therefore have found joy abundant as their reflect God’s love and mercy.