God gives us even more grace to stand against evil desires. The scriptures say, "God opposes the proud but favors the humble." So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Come close to God and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts. For your loyalty is divided between God and the world.
It is pretty simple:
- Humble yourself.
- Submit to God.
- oppose the devil - he's a coward.
- Get close to God.
- Clean up your act.
- Clean up your motivations.
- Don't have divided loyalties.
Humility: I need growth. I bow before God fairly easily (or so I think), but before others, I don't easily acquiesce. This probably reveals the truth of my relationship with God, if I would admit it. I try, but when someone is not in agreement with me and my contrivances about how things should be, I know I resist.
The solution is to clean up my sinful self in the obvious places. Wash my hands - purify myself from sinful actions. Cleanse my heart - in the core of my intentions and motivations. My loyalty is divided on whether I will serve God or myself. The question becomes: who is on the throne of my heart? How do I unseat myself from that throne?
It is a pitiful sight when I live my life for just myself: I will lose it, Jesus assures me. But to gain life, I must give up the throne, give up the helm. Richard Rohr says, ultimately, we are addicted to ourselves, which can be seen when I am at the center of every decision and action. When that is true, the "Christian" life is a sham. It is not Christ at all.
That sham is a shame and verse 9 of James 4 explains what our reaction must be: Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter and gloom instead of joy.
It's a terrible offense to relegate God to second place in my heart. Worse yet to think he would serve me and my purposes. Am I truly stricken by the awfulness of usurping God's rightful place in my heart? Do I lament and grieve? Do I see my betrayal of God as a cause for deep sorrow? Any joy I might seek for myself should be a place for shame!
So, now my choice is clear. I must submit - keep God on the throne of my life by deciding to whom I am loyal. He is the ruler. He holds the power. He has the plan that is perfect and perfect for me. It is a good plan, though maybe not the easy plan, but it is the plan which makes life worth living. It is the plan that prepares me for heaven. It is new every day. It calls me higher. It brings peace.
Being loyal to God alone: that's worth pursuing.