Thursday, October 18, 2007

James 4:11-17: Boasting

"Therefore, to the believer who knows what is good and doesn't do it, to him it is sin." ~ James 4:17

James says, in verse 10, "Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up." We cannot lift ourselves up unaided. Instead, we can only prostrate ourselves before Jesus, who paid our penalty on the Cross, and by God's grace receive our share of Jesus' resurrected life. Without daily - even hourly - awareness of this precious gift from above, we will stumble into Satan's grip.

Boasting, therefore, has two dimensions. Consciously elevating the self over God is its gross form. In essence, this is what atheists and agnostics do. It permeates most of our popular culture; God is absent (or far backstage), and material facts are the only truths. But James doesn't stop there; he draws his readers' attention to the subtle form, in which believers let worldly business choke and smother God's freely given grace.

This subtle form of boasting has several manifestations. James, with his keen eye for hypocrisy, tells us not to judge each other, for above us "there is only one Lawgiver who is able to save and to destroy" (v. 12). In a passage that speaks to the hearts of businessmen, but also to inveterate to-do list writers like me, James mocks people who make future plans without thinking about God's plans for them (vv. 13-15). We know that God is good, but when we substitute our ideas of what's good for us for Creation and the Word, we sin.

Holy Spirit, fill our hearts with discernment, as you filled the heart of your servant king Solomon, that we may know God's will and subsume our wills to His - for He knows what we need. Amen!

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