OPENING SONG AND PRAYER
We started our time together by singing hymn #385 - "More Love to Thee, O Christ."
We spent our time together in a general review of James chapter 4.
- The source of quarrels and conflicts among us is our own desires apart from God's will.
- Quarrels and conflict occur between members of the church, not within our own bodies. Context points the way to this understanding. For instance, James 3 sets the groundwork understanding of interpersonal conflict.
- Not only ought we to let go of our own desires, but we should replace our own desires with the desires of God and Christ our Lord. We should pray to the Lord without holding onto selfish motives, not expecting an answer to prayer so that our will would be done, but rather that the Lord's will would be done.
- "We should pray for the ends rather than the means." We should pray for the result of Lord's glory, rather than praying specifically for the mechanisms of how we might think this will should be carried out. If we pray for the means, we will likely end up with an attitude of discouragement or even disappointment in God if or when events don't transpire in the way we expected.
- Friendship with the world would be to align with their philosophy to do whatever it takes to get your own way. When we engage in this kind of selfish mentality and action, we become enemies of God.
- Verse 5 refers to the man's inner spirit, not the Holy Spirit. The Lord desires our inner man. He desires for our full obedience and worship. God doesn't desire outward or hypocritical acts of religion, but He desires our entire being in devotion and submission to Him.
- When we engage in conflict with others in pursuit of our own selfish desires, we become just like the world and enemies of God. Rather, we must submit to God willingly in full obedience, not holding fast to our own selfishness, but drawing near in full and humble trust in God's will for our lives.
- To be humble is to submit to God's authority and obey His Word.
- To resist the devil means to resist his temptations to seek after your own glory and authority apart from God's glory and authority.
- When we feel distant from God, it is not God who has abandoned us, but rather we have wandered and failed to draw near to God. We can only draw nearer to God when we realize our own sinfulness and respond with humble repentance. We ought to truly mourn over our sins before our holy God. We ought to cleanse our hands and purify our hearts from our sins, actively turning away from them and instead turning our hearts and minds back toward God and His will.
- In the context of interpersonal conflict, we must not judge our brethren according to our own selfish desires. When we judge or condemn our brethren, we place ourselves at the same level or even above God, and we give ourselves the authority to place judgment on others for what we evaluate as sinfulness. This is foolishness and sin, for only God can judge, and we have no power or authority to save and destroy.
- We should seek to edify and bless others. We should seek to help and ease others' burdens, bearing them as our own. We ought to confront others of their sins, but not just abandon them there with a judgmental attitude; we should love them, care for them, pray for them, and help them to repent and overcome their sins.