↓Audio link to the sermon:(1nd worship recording)
(If you can’t listen on your iPhone, please update your iOS)
Today’s message is from James 4:10,「Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.」It promises us that he Lord will lift us up when we humble ourselves. Today, let us learn how to humble ourselves before Him. Last week, we learned from James 3:18,「Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.」We met Jesus, repented from our sins, and we started a new life with Jesus. God wants to make us peacemakers who sow in peace and reap a harvest of righteousness. We’d like to have a positive aspect such as sowing in peace and being peacemakers, but at the same time, we also want to humble ourselves before the Lord. Now, please read James 4:1-17.
James 4:1 says,「What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?」Fights and battles happen anywhere. It’s happening in the current society that we live, and even within church. The Greek word, which is translated as “desires” here is also used as pleasure (Luke 8:14) and sinful desires (I Peter 2:11). Both of them are not a good word. Adam and Eve sinned and they were expelled from the Garden of Eden, and this sad event teaches us that all of us, human beings have sinned in our hearts. This truth is also revealed by this tragedy of Cain, killing his brother, Abel. All of us, human beings have this common realities, that we all have sinned, yet those who believe in Jesus have received the forgiveness of sin, and with the help of the Holy Spirit, we can live reigning over our sinful nature. James points out that our sinful desires cause fights and quarrels among us. James 4:2 says,「You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight..」It seems the event of Cain and Abel is in the background of this passage. However, James changes his viewpoint from the following sentence,「..You do not have because you do not ask God.」(James 4:2 NIV) James’ understand is that if we ask God, He will answer our prayers. Verse 3 says,「When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.」(James 4:3 NIV)
How about you all? What are your motives of your prayer? Let us look at some of the promises of the Bible. Psalm 34:15 says,「The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are attentive to their cry;」Luke 18:13-14 teaches us that God hears the prayers of those who humble themselves. Furthermore, 1 John 5:14 says,「..if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.」God hears our prayers when we ask with right motives, and when we humble ourselves and repent from our sins. The author points out to the readers that even though God hears our prayer, you don’t pray with the right motives, or you pray according to your own sinful desires.
James 4:5 says,「Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us?」Within each of us, we have the Spirit of God breathed into us. (Genesis 2:7) Humans are spiritual existence and we are not simply living for our sinful desires. God loves us and he jealously longs for us. (Exodus 34:14) Furthermore, verse 6 says,「But he gives us more grace.」The word “more grace” reminds us of Roman 5:20,「But where sin increased, grace increased all the more,」
That’s why we shouldn’t forget that we are creation created by God, and the author recommends us to humble ourselves before our creator. Humbling ourselves means admitting that we are imperfect, instead depending on God, and waiting for salvation from God. God pours more grace upon these people.
As we are in the midst of coronavirus crisis, many people are living with anxiety and suffering. The word of verse 14 speaks to us especially because we are all in this trial. 「Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.」(James 4:14 NIV) This passage teaches us that we are like mist that appears for a little while and vanishes. James 4:15 continues,「Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”」It is all according to the Lord’s will. If it is His will, we will live and have something to accomplish. I receive these words of the Bible sincerely.
For this reason, we would like to humble ourselves before the Lord as verse 15 recommends us. God loves us, human beings even if we are sinful. The sacrifice of Jesus on the cross is given to all of us. Philippians 2:8-9 says,「he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place…」We also want to follow Jesus, humbling ourselves before the Lord. On the other hand, there is evil way of living boasting themselves before God. (Verse 16) They choose to be a friend of the world, an enemy of God. As we take recognition of this evil way of living, let us draw closer to God, cry out to Him, and humble ourselves before the Lord. Let us believe in this promise, that the Lord will lift us up.