Today’s grace verse is the only verse in James where the Greek word Charis (grace) is found and at first glance it seems to be very cut and dry…”But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6 NASB)
If we include the surrounding verses, it becomes even more powerful and very convicting! I chose to look at it in the The Message after reading several different translations. Let’s take a look…
Where do you think all these appalling wars and quarrels come from? Do you think they just happen? Think again. They come about because you want your own way, and fight for it deep inside yourselves. You lust for what you don’t have and are willing to kill to get it. You want what isn’t yours and will risk violence to get your hands on it. You wouldn’t think of just asking God for it, would you? And why not? Because you know you’d be asking for what you have no right to. You’re spoiled children, each wanting your own way. You’re cheating on God. If all you want is your own way, flirting with the world every chance you get, you end up enemies of God and His way. And do you suppose God doesn’t care? The proverb has it that “He’s a fiercely jealous lover.” And what He gives in love is far better than anything else you’ll find. It’s common knowledge that “God goes against the willful proud; God gives grace to the willing humble.” So let God work His will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper. Say a quiet yes to God and He’ll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field. Hit bottom, and cry your eyes out. The fun and games are over. Get serious, really serious. Get down on your knees before the Master; it’s the only way you’ll get on your feet. (James 4:1-10 MSG)
Wow! It gets right to the point and strongly states it’s message. You might prefer another translation, some are gentler than this paraphrase. My take away is it is very easy to get caught up in the world and become selfish and self-centered rather than God centered. When we do this, our world view becomes more and more wrapped up in ourselves and less concerned with others and with God. When we are humble and seek God first, trust that He is for us and wants what is best for us; then our hearts will be right before Him and when we ask it will be more likely to be from a good place and with right motives. God wants first place in our lives. He tells us when we seek Him and His Kingdom first, all other things will be added to us. (Matthew 6:33) God also tells us He will provide our needs according to His riches and glory. (Philippians 4:18-20) Our Father wants us to have full and abundant lives (John 10:10) but He also knows that some of the things we desire will not be good for us or will cause us to stumble. Have you ever prayed for something and got no for an answer only to realize down the road if that prayer had been answered it would not have turned out well for you? I have! I can think of a few such situations. God gives grace to the humble and when we submit ourselves humbly before Him, resisting the enemy and his antics in our lives; the enemy will flee. As we draw near to God, He draws near to us. (James 4:8) When we humble ourselves before Him, then He is able to exalt us. (verse 10) Maybe it is over simplistic, but I look at my relationship with my children and grandchildren as a great example of our relationship with God.
I have always wanted the best for my children and still do; the same is true for my precious little grandchildren. I would love for them to have every desire of their heart but a small child playing near a busy road or darting out across a street is very dangerous therefore must be denied no matter how much fun they think it will be. Just as in this day and time it is inadvisable for a thirteen year old to be granted permission to skateboard around town at 2 a.m.. Some things are just not smart and we would be considered negligent if we allow those things to go on. Still, we want what we want and in the long run sometimes we act just like the teenager that sneaks out their window in the middle of the night leaving the safety of their parents home.
God wants us to come to Him and trust Him even when His answer is not the one we would like to hear or when the answer is wait. He sees our hearts and like a good parent, He knows the hidden dangers that we may not see or consider. His Word asks:
Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him! (Matthew 7:9-11 NASB)
also, it tells us:
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? (Romans 8:31, 32 NASB)
God gave us His Son, His most precious possession is ours if we will believe. If He has already given His best, why would He withhold anything else from us? The only logical reason would be that it might be detrimental to us in some way; either spiritually, physically, emotionally or eternally harmful. His desire is for our good, for our well-being, to strengthen us and grow us into mature sons and daughters of the Most High God.
May His grace, peace and blessing reign in your life and mine!