Our society has made it so easy for us. We have access to more entertainment, sporting events, and educational opportunities than any other generation before us. These are all good things, unless…
Many people, Christians included, know that their lives aren’t what they should be. But instead of dealing with the problem, they hide in a sea of amusement. The word, amuse, a-muse, literally means to not think.
We will fill our lives with so much that we don’t have to think about and deal with the problems. James talks about this condition.
Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
Many people read this passage out of context and dismiss it as purely condemnation. They refuse to accept it as a word of warning to them.
The word sinner has become a bad word to us. It simply means someone who’s missing the mark – they’re not experiencing all that God has for them.
That’s what happens when you’re double-minded; you haven’t fully committed to trust God’s plan over yours. You miss out on God’s best when you only trust Him part of the time.
The key word in all of this is, grieve. It doesn’t sound good, but it’s actually sound advice. It literally means to realize one’s own misery. There’s a point when you have to shut off the continual stream of entertainment and take stock of your life.
That’s why this verse has to be read in the context of the whole section it’s in. James is speaking to people who find themselves in the conditions he described in chapters 3 and 4. If you find that your life has disorder and evil that you can’t overcome. Or maybe you’ve been praying for things with no results. It could be that you’ve tried to resist the enemy and he doesn’t leave you alone.
These are the things that James is trying to get you to think about. Are you living up to God’s best plan for your life? At some point we all have to stop and think about it.
Please realize that the goal of all of this is NOT to ruin your fun. God is not intent on being the universal party-pooper. He wants you to enjoy the greatest fulfillment and potential that you could ever hope to achieve.
This is made clear by his last statement. If you’re willing to bring your life back into God’s order, then He will lift you up. The verse says that He wants to elevate you above the circumstances.
The choice is yours. You can continue to climb your own ladder of success. But if you do, you may get to the top only to find that you placed it against the wrong wall.
The other choice is to turn around and step into God’s elevator. Follow His plan for your life and let Him have complete responsibility for getting you to your destiny.
So rather than this verse being about judgment and condemnation, we need to see it as a call to stop the cover-up. If that’s for you, the answer is simple. It’s time to repent and start off in a new direction in Christ.
Question: How has God’s plan proven to be better than yours so far?
© Nick Zaccardi 2017