James 4:4--Adulteresses! Don’t you know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? So whoever wants to be the world’s friend becomes God’s enemy.
I am sure James’ readers must have been mildly offended by his strong words in the verse above. My jaw would definitely tighten if someone called me an adulterous person. So what is it that James wants us to understand?
First, we should know that when Scripture speaks of the world in this context it is not referring to the earth but rather human society and its evil influences (see 1:27). James admonishes his readers for being unfaithful to God by embracing the practices of a corrupt civilization.
Second, we should remember that the Bible teaches that God is a jealous God. Moses wrote, “You are never to bow down to another god because Yahweh, being jealous by nature, is a jealous God” (Exodus 34:14). Jealously indicates the true depth of one’s love! What if God didn’t’ care about our values or friendships? He would treat us capriciously and our damnation would be of little consequence to Him. If He condoned our rebellious natures and our corrupt systems His holiness would be irrelevant and His love would never have suffered the sacrifice of Jesus.
In the book Gold Fears No Fire, Ralph Toliver writes about a Christian Chinese family that suffered much persecution in communist China. The authorities determined to prove that their wisdom negated the need for anyone to follow some ancient outmoded Deity. The more the government attempts to stamp out Christianity the more the church flourishes. A Chinese believer understands that friendship with the world is hatred towards God. But what about those Christians who live where only subtle opposition to God exists?
Here’s what happens to Christians who like what the world has to offer. We are slowly anesthetized to evil because life is good. Materialism fills our hearts till we disdain becoming living sacrifices. We become more concerned about how people will view us than in what God tells us to do. How we look replaces who we are. We accept busyness over worship and justify intention to excuse negligence. We search for happiness unaware of why our joy is robbed. We find fault with others and make use of labels to avoid our own responsibility. Can you see why James was concerned? The sooner we recognize this and repent, the sooner we shall find again our longing for God and reap the blessings He bestows on a faithful people. There is no peace where love is betrayed.
To love the world as it is is the wrong kind of love; it is that sentiment which is the enemy of God, because it means I am the friend of the system of things that does not take God into account.—Oswald Chambers in Biblical Ethics
The world is a net; the more we stir in it, the more we are entangled.—Proverb
If within us we find nothing over us we succumb to what is around us.—P.T. Forsyth
You know what your own country is like. I'm a visitor, and I wouldn't presume to speak about America. But I know what Great Britain is like. I know something about the growing dishonesty, corruption, immorality, violence, pornography, the diminishing respect for human life, and the increase in abortion. Whose fault is it? Let me put it like this: if the house is dark at night, there is no sense in blaming the house. That's what happens when the sun goes down. The question to ask is, "Where is the light?" If meat goes bad, there is no sense in blaming the meat. That is what happens when the bacteria are allowed to breed unchecked. The question to ask is, "Where is the salt?" If society becomes corrupt like a dark night or stinking fish, there's no sense in blaming society. That's what happens when fallen human society is left to itself and human evil is unrestrained and unchecked. The question to ask is "Where is the church?"—John Stott, "Christians: Salt and Light," Preaching Today, Tape No. 109.
©2002 Daniel York ARR. Reveration is the weekly devotional ministry of First Cause. If you would like to receive these devotionals go to www.firstcause.org and click on the “Click here to receive weekly devotionals” box. Unlimited permission to copy this devotional without altering text or profiteering is allowed subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.
Ecclesiastes 12:10-The Teacher sought to find delightful sayings and to accurately write words of truth. (Holman CSB)