This boot camp has been very challenging for me but very rewarding as well. I love reading your comments and hearing how it is impacting you as well. Today we will start off with one of my favorite verses.
8 Come near to God and he will come near to you.
The simplicity of this verse is beautiful. All we have to do is come near to God and He will respond by coming near to us. It is so comforting to know the Lord is always available to us whenever we choose to turn to Him. Remember that earlier in this chapter James was reprimanding the people for seeking their own pleasure versus submitting to the will of the Lord. James wanted to remind them that God was waiting for them to draw near to Him. Do you need to come near to the Lord today?
Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
The remainder of these verses are again addressing the behavior of the people in chasing after pleasure and their own desires. “The call to “wash your hands” is a command to make one’s conduct pure. Similarly, the call to “purify your hearts” insists on purity of thoughts and motives. The eager quest for pleasure (James 4:1-5) had resulted in sins of the heart and hand.”
We are no different than the group James was addressing because we sin with our hearts by having motives and thoughts that are less than pure and we follow these up with conduct that is not pleasing to the Lord. What thoughts and motives have you had recently that are not in line with the desires and plans the Lord has for you? Have you acted on those thoughts and desires causing yourself to sin?
James was concerned with the way the people were dealing with their sin. They were taking their sin too lightly. He tells them to “grieve, mourn and wail”. He wanted their reflection on the attitudes of their hearts and minds to be so serious it would break their hearts the way it was breaking the Lords causing them to “grieve, mourn and wail”.
When you think about your own sin, do you minimalize, rationalize or justify it? Do you try to make light of it or quickly ask the Lord for forgiveness without ever really allowing yourself to feel the weight of what you have done? Our sin hurts the Lord; it breaks His heart. He wants us to truly understand the seriousness of our sin not to induce guilt, but to help us change our behavior.
In verse 9 James wants the people to change their attitudes towards their sin and their desire for pleasure and their own will versus their desires for the ways of the Lord. The change is from “laughter to mourning” and “joy to gloom”. Instead of taking their sins lightly, he wants them to truly understand it causes the Lord to mourn. James closes this section with a reminder for humility. When we humble ourselves before the Lord, He will lift us up.
Recognizing and accepting responsibility for your sins requires humility. When we are willing to humble ourselves and seek His forgiveness for our sins, He will lift us up by helping us to change. The Lord will help us change our desires and our will to be in line with His. Today I pray you are willing to take a good hard look at your thoughts, desires, words and actions. Are they in line with the Lord? Are there areas where you are sinning? Are you rationalizing, justifying or minimizing your sins? Spend some time and allow the Lord to reveal your sinfulness and do as James says, “grieve, mourn and wail” for breaking His heart. When you humble yourself, He will lift you up!
- All Scripture references are from http://www.biblegateway.com
- Quote from “The Expositor’s Bible Commentary”, Vol. 12, Zondervan