You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. -James 4:3
What is pride? A Biblical definition of pride is defined as a feeling of deep pleasure or satisfaction in an achievement, an accomplishment, or in someone else or something else but it’s also been described as conceit, egotism, vanity, vainglory, all over one’s own appearance or status in life and not just something that’s been accomplished. It is an inwardly directed emotion that can easily offend others and carries with it a connotation that displays an inflated sense of one’s own worth or personal status and typically makes one feel a sense of superiority over others and can easily make someone look condescendingly at others. Pride in one’s nation or in one’s own children is somewhat different from that of having pride in themselves (Proverbs 17:6) but even that can self-attribute a sense of worth that is easily overvalued, overinflated, and be unrealistic.
What is Humility? Humility is the quality of being humble. Many people have the wrong idea about God, the Bible and humility, or being humble. They think being humble means groveling in front of others or thinking they are no good and others are better. That’s not what the Bible says. God says when you are humble, you are free from pride and arrogance. You know that in your flesh you are inadequate, yet you also know who you are in Christ.
Individuals often seek instant gratification, which is why sinful behavior is so appealing. Although, the “wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23), as far as participants are concerned, the pleasure experienced during the moment outweighs any negative consequences. This mentality was true to some. “Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members?” James 4:1. The terrifying linkage of evil desires and their deeds could have been avoided by some with an approach that is quite simple: prayer. Prayer that is consistent with true faith will not make selfish requests”. If people turn to God with selfish requests, those requests would be denied. “You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures”-James 4:3
It is not that God is unconcerned with those who pray to Him, but He is concerned with more than our momentary whims or desires. We must be careful not to fall in love with the world and its allurements (1 John 2:15-17).
Friendship With the World
Just as one must choose between the “wisdom that is from above” and the alternative, so one must decide between allegiance to God and allegiance to the world. Leaving little doubt about the necessity of this decision. James wrote: “Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself and enemy of God” James 4:4
To stress animosity that existed between the people and God, by seeking friendship with the world they are, in effect, committing ‘spiritual adultery’ and making themselves enemies of God. What is absolutely clear, however, is that one cannot pursue the world and please God. Because God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4), it should not surprise us to find God concerned when individuals befriend the world.
The solution to worldliness and the strife associated with it is to give oneself completely to God. ‘Therefore, submit to God Resist the devil and he will flee from you“ James 4:7. This submission requires individuals to live according to the “wisdom that is from above”. Too, it demands a dependence upon God that can hardly be accomplished by those who harbor envy and selfishness. Nevertheless, when put into practice, submission allows us to grow closer to God. This occurs because, in our humility, we are seeking to be a friend to God rather than to the world.
I don’t want to leave the impression that it would be easy to turn away from the world. In fact, it would be quite difficult. Such a change would necessarily be accompanied by lamentation and mourning as described in James 4:9. A truly repentant person not only changes their attitudes and actions but experiences emotional pain when they come to understand the effects of their envy and pride on God an others. Nothing short of complete humility will suffice, but those who seek to humble themselves before God will eventually be exalted (James 4:10)
Although, some individuals live their lives based on pleasure they can obtain, such should not be the case with Christians. As Hebrews 11:25 reveals, the pleasures of sin are passing. No matter how alluring sin might be, Christians must look to the greater reward offered by God. By choosing to submit to God, one is simultaneously choosing to resist the devil. This does not mean the devil will no longer trouble or tempt the one who seeks to serve God, but his ability to influence and tempt that person will be greatly hindered. As you serve God, be on guard against the pull of envy and selfishness-two of the devil’s strongest tactics.
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