Submit to God

The turning point of James’ letter is verse 4:6. James writes of humility by humbly yielding the stage, citing more ancient scripture than his own in order to make his vital point. “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble,” he says—quoting Proverbs 3:34.

To get us to this point, here are the way stations that the letter of James has passed. The letter says a great deal that is not included in the sketch below, but here is the shape of the letter so far:

We experience trials. Through belief, we’ll outlast. (1:2-21)

But there is something more than mere outlasting. Is there not a purpose for the renewed life we’ve been given within this world? (1:22-25)

Some of the good we can do is plain. Take care of the vulnerable (1:26-27). Don’t take up the world’s way of ranking people by rich and poor (2:1-7).

But there is more still—more that you will do....

Not “being good” by obeying all of the religious rules. That leads to harshness. (2:8-13)

Not “believing” in God in only an abstract way. God is real, and your faith will have a real effect. (2:14-26)

Not being quick to tell others what to do. We barely know this about ourselves. (2:27-4:5)

No, you surrender all that. Submit to God, says James 4:7.

All of the following are forms of pride: That I imagine I am finished because I follow the rules ... that I think my belief does not have to touch my life in a way that you can see ... that I presume to instruct without my own self being changed. All of this is pride—stones in the dam that blocks off grace.

James is a letter about doing, about “works.” Yet it is not me alone who can choose or realize the fullness of the works God had in mind when he made me.

My role is to be humble. My role sometimes is to wait. My role is to seek God, to seek his will, to recognize his way of patient love and fruitful joy, and to see the stones of pride removed so that the work of grace can be released to flow out through me.

[31 Days of James]