Sunday, March 3, 2013

James 4:7-8 -- On Following the Recipe for a Good Life

"Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded."
James 4:7-8

Submission is hard.  It is an amazing thing to learn, but for many of us, it takes some real, sustained effort to get there.  We're scared of letting anyone else run our lives for us... with good reason in most cases.  A couple of primary things make submitting to God different than submitting to anyone else though.  First, God is worthy of our trust.  If we put ourselves in his power or make ourselves vulnerable to him, he will never abuse that power to harm or ridicule us.  Second, he doesn't want to run our lives for us at all.  He wants us to run our lives, according to our desires.  He only wants us to learn to have better desires, and to dream bigger than we could ever hope to alone... to see the superior, eternal picture, rather than settling for some temporary this-life-only high.  And by submitting to his will and trying it his way, we learn how much better life can be beyond the small dreams that we had for ourselves.
Both of these verses seem to be telling us how to make our lives better.  After counseling us to submit to God, we are told to resist the devil.  Good advice as well.  How often do we just kind of passively submit to HIM, because it sounds good?  So, just some basics... stop resisting God, and start resisting the devil. :)  Then it continues by telling us that if we work at getting close to God, that he will reciprocate.  If we want to know how to have a better life, that sounds like a really good plan as well.  And finally, cleanse our hands and purify our hearts.  "Sinners" and "double minded" are no more than the truth.  We are both of those things, so very often.  We justify ourselves in sin, and we try to live with strong, but opposite desires.  Part of us dedicated to God, and part of us yearning for something else... giving up on God's promises when things seem hard, and trying for something more tactile and immediate.
Recipe for a good life: today, let's do what God wants, and not what we want.  Let's try it out... resist the devil, draw close to God, and cleanse our hands and our hearts... some deep internal spring cleaning today.  And then let's see if our lives are better or worse.  I think that we'll be surprised at how good life can be when we put God before ourselves.

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