Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you (James 4:8).
Intimacy is speaking the truth in love. It is impossible without grace – as our honest discussions reveal personal and relational inadequacies.
Grace gives us the ability to listen carefully, forgive ourselves and others, and react in compassion. Often, the truth spoken in love is too much – we either don’t want the honesty with ourselves or we prefer bearing a grudge toward others.
What causes the quarrels and what causes the fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? (James 4:1).
I’ve watched some grow distant to Jesus (and others they love) during difficulties, and others draw closer to both God and others. Some become holy and others compromise.
Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? (James 4:4).
There is always a truth about us to which we deny. We hide from it. God is love and insists on revealing these inadequacies – often through trials. That’s love – God can’t help but challenge anything that hinders His loving us.
But He gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God is opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6).
Through our confession of Jesus as Lord, we give Him permission to sift our attitudes. But a willing submission to His holiness is an entirely different matter.
Submit yourselves to God (James 4:7).
Back to my statement – this honesty is too much. Instead of facing our sins, we blame and challenge God’s goodness for allowing the trial.
Sin hides behind blame. Others are easy targets since they sin too. Why not focus on their inadequacies instead of ours? We say, “You did this!” Then we deny it when they reply, “But you did this first.”
Cleanse your hands you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded (James 4:8).
This “blame and deny” game doesn’t work with Jesus. He’s perfect. So, we focus on His actions that we don’t understand. We ask, “Why did God allow this?” We extend it to His Word (scripture), “It can’t be inspired.” And we pick the easiest target of all – His body, the Church.
Do not speak evil against one another, brothers (James 4:11).
The penalty: Loss of intimacy.
Couples stop talking, church members stop attending, and followers stop praying. We disconnect from our sources of grace – others, fellow believers, and God – to be left in a mire of doubt and discouragement.
And we can’t escape, as our sin requires grace. What can we do? What can you do?
Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you (James 4:10).