The Agora
Bible Commentary

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James 4

Jam 4:3

What hinders our prayers? Asking amiss (James 4:3); Sin (Isa 59:1,2); Ignoring others (Pro 21:13); Failure to forgive others (Mark 11:25); Faulty family relationships (1Pe 3:7); Doubt (James 5:7).

BECAUSE YOU ASK WITH WRONG MOTIVES: "We create our own unhappiness by desiring what it would not be good for us to have, or what God in His love and wisdom does not see fit to give. If we truly believed that 'all things work together for good to them that love God', we could not be unhappy. Happiness is contentment with reality, and harmony with God" (GVG).

Jam 4:4

Separateness from world: 2Co 6:14-18; 1Pe 2:11,12; 1Jo 2:15-17; 3:1; 4:5; 5:19; Jam 1:27; Heb 13:14: Phi 3:20; Gal 6:14; Joh 17:6,9; Rev 2:20; 9:20.

"The fact is that in all companionship there is a tendency to conform. We cannot remain for long in genuine companionship with those whose tastes are totally different from our own. Difference of temperament may be an advantage to friendship but difference of taste is an obstacle. If there is a fundamental difference in the most important matters of life, true friendship cannot be long sustained, and that is why the call of the Gospel has separated families and often caused bitterness. Friendship may continue if the difference of taste or conviction can be progressively diminished. One who has been called by the Gospel often tries to continue in friendship with one who only hears the call of the world, but inevitably there is either a progressive loosening of the friendly tie or a change in the individuals. The worldly man may be transformed for Christ or the disciple of Christ may be conformed to the world. Possibly there will be a change on both sides, resulting in a lukewarm compromise of no value from either point of view. It is a terrible truth that 'the friendship of the world is enmity with God' " (PrPr)

Jam 4:7

RESIST THE DEVIL: By parallelism, = "wash your hands" and "purify your hearts" of v 8.

DEVIL: By parallelism, = "sin", to be resisted (Rom 6:13).

Jam 4:8

COME NEAR TO GOD AND HE WILL COME NEAR TO YOU: "Realize the urgent importance of constant closeness to God. The power of the attraction of gravity is in inverse proportion to the distance, and the attraction increases, not just simply but exponentially, with closeness. This is true both naturally and spiritually. There are always powerful, almost irresistible forces pulling us away -- forces of the flesh and of the world. There is no safety or stability except in closely clasped contact with the Eternal Father, the Source and Power of holiness and life and light. Neglect or loosen or forget the urgency of that contact, and you soon will be swept helplessly away into eternal darkness and oblivion" (GVG).

Jam 4:9

// Mat 5:4; Luk 6:21,25.

Jam 4:10

"Keep constantly before your mind your total helplessness and total dependence upon God. Never slip into the folly of feeling self-confident or self-sufficient. This is the only wisdom. We are nothing. Our highest 'knowledge' is foolishness: our greatest achievements are meaningless and puny. Only as willing and faithful instruments in the hands of God can we do anything worthwhile, or anything right. Maintain the direct and continuous contact, or you lose all power of truth and holiness" (GVG).

"In speaking of humility, it might be helpful to say what humility is not. It is not a false valuation of your talents or abilities. You need not say you are dumb when you are smart or ugly when you are handsome. It is understanding those gifts are from God and therefore cannot be a source of arrogance. Meekness does not mean deferring to everyone on everything. Different people are suited to different tasks. Some do things better than others. Humility allows for an accurate self-assessment and the adeptness to carry out those duties without self-aggrandizement to the benefit of God and others. Humility is also not rejecting all praise. We must accept praise and criticism equally well. If we are humble, we will not love 'the praise of men more than the praise of God' (Joh 12:43). We cannot accept the praise of men and also attain the praise of God unless we do so humbly and with a sincere recognition of the source of our abilities" (KT).

Jam 4:11

SPEAKS AGAINST THE LAW: Which requires that we go directly to those with whom we have issues (Mat 18:15).

Jam 4:12

WHO ARE YOU TO JUDGE YOUR NEIGHBOR?: "Don't criticize: help! Leave the judging to God, where it belongs. Anybody can criticize, and most do. It takes no brains, ability, preparation or effort: just a small mind and a loose tongue. Critics are always in oversupply. Helpers and doers and builders are always scarce, for that takes effort and self-sacrifice and intelligence and patience and love, which are not natural, animal, human characteristics, like criticism is. Criticism comes built-in and ready-made: part of the universal diabolos. Every unnecessary critical word is a mark against us at the judgment seat. We may be thoughtlessly compiling quite a formidable record for that dread day" (GVG).

Jam 4:13

"If you want to hear God laugh, just tell him your plans" (old Jewish proverb).

Jam 4:14

A MIST...: Cp Ecc 1:2; Psa 144:4.

Jam 4:15

IF IT IS THE LORD'S WILL: See 1Co 16:7; 4:19; Act 18:21. Life is so full of uncertainties that there are no guarantees; failure is as possible as success; indifferent health as fitness; tomorrow's plans can be brutally overthrown by untimely death, so much so that the wise man as he looks ahead seeks for divine guidance in the spirit of "Thy will be done" and then prepares to accept the offering of each day as it comes.
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