James 4:4 You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.
These 10 verses include some dearly loved ones, particularly verse seven (which I quote often) and verse 10. However, I would venture to say very few people count this verse as one of their favorites. Part of that comes from misunderstanding the use of the word, “world.” This isn’t talking about the natural world that God created and called good, (though that too will pass away) it’s talking about the world system that John was talking about when he said, “For everything in the world–the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does–comes not from the Father but from the world.” (1 John 2:16) The problem is, we tend to glorify and seek after those very things! There is a massive industry aimed at “the lust of the flesh,” advertising is designed to provoke “the lust of the eyes,” and we are taught by social pressure from childhood to be self-centered and proud. That’s what James is talking about. We also tend to hang up on being called “adulterous people.” Perhaps the expression in the Japanese would click a little better: “people without chastity.” In the current environment of casual “hook-ups,” that should hit close to home! The NIV, in an attempt to make this more understandable, says “friendship with the world,” but the Japanese sticks with the Greek and says “loving the world.” Too many of us are completely infatuated with the world, desiring all the trinkets it promises and sometimes even delivers, when they are no more than ashes compared to the glories of fellowship with God. This isn’t a call to a completely ascetic lifestyle, but it is a strong warning to get our head on straight and understand what is important, valuable, and eternal.
I find myself tempted to pride that I haven’t descended to some of the excesses I have seen around me, but that is an exercise in self-deception. I too am tempted by the “trinkets of the world” I just mentioned. I need to get it completely straight and firm in my heart and mind that God knows what I need better than I do, and He’s not stingy. If I will indeed seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, then the supply will be generous and unending. (Matthew 6:33) Recently more and more is being uncovered of the activities of people who lust after power in this world, and it is truly ugly. I am to stand firm against that, as it says in verse 7, but I am not to despise those who fall for that deception. Rather, I am to pray for God’s mercy and grace on them, even as I pray that their actions be nullified. I must remember that I am fundamentally no better than they are, and it is only by the grace of God that I can see things as I do.
Father, thank You for this clear reminder. Thank You particularly for pointing out that I am again tempted to pride. That has been such a snare to me, but You have been so gracious! Help me indeed love You with all I am, and love my neighbor as I love myself, so that the love of the world may be far from me and I may be fully available and useful to You, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!