You Can’t Do Whatever You Want

Therefore, submit yourself to God, resist the devil and he will flee from you. – James 4:7 NKJV

 

The New Testament book of James would seem to be a primer on living the Christian life.  James takes the concept of believing in Jesus and makes it practical or visible in our life.  In other words, there needs to be some noticeable life-change for the person who claims to be a Christian.

I was thinking about how James coves such a wide range of topics from how we handle adversity, to how treat each other, what we say and the control of our tongue – just to name a few.  In chapter four, he continues his treatise on Christian living by asking a few questions of his readers.  Among those questions, James asks:

What causes quarrels and fighting among you? Is it not that your passions are at war within you? – James 4:1 ESV

He goes on in verses 3 & 4 stating we do not have because we do not ask and when we ask we ask wrongly, spending it on ourselves.

Finally he gets to the bottom line of this section with the statement in verse 7 that we are to submit ourselves to God.  Submission to God, isn’t that what this book is all about?  James is making the case that we must remove ourselves from the top of our own importance ladder and keep God there.  We are to submit to Him.

At first, this seems like a no-brainer for believers.  But I wonder if there is more to this that just acknowledging God is God and that I am not.  It’s to be lived out.  I am to be a servant, doing what the Master commands.  My life, my desires, my passions, my interests, my money – EVERYTHING – is to be under His authority.

If I am truly living in submission to Him, then I don’t get to do just what I want to do.  I do what He wants me to do. It does not matter if I like it or not.  Whether I understand it or not is irrelevant.   As a servant, I am to submit myself to God.  But the beauty of this concept is when I do remove myself from the head of my life and submit myself to Him, I can resist the devil.  In fact, based off this verse I maintain my ability to handle adversity, temptation and conflict is magnified when I submit my will to Him.

Additionally, I’ve been struck by the idea that like David, we can pour our hearts out to God, yet He really doesn’t need my opinion.  He doesn’t seem to ask me about my thoughts on a certain subject or my opinion about what He’s calling me to do.  He, as my Master, gives me a command.  I, as the servant, need to follow those orders.

You might say, “But isn’t there a verse in Psalms stating He gives us the desires of our heart?  What’s wrong with what I want?”  That verse is found in Psalm 37:4 and it is one I love to quote!  Yet even in that same Psalm we are to trust (vs3), delight (vs4) and commit (vs5) ourselves to Him.  Our desires are to be in service to Him, we don’t get to earn them as a fringe benefit of being a believer.  We are to submit to Him.

There might be nothing wrong with what you want, but then again you might be like one of those James is writing to when he says in verse 3 that “you do not receive because you ask wrongly, spending it on our passions.”

I wonder, would our lives be less stressful, less complicated and more fulfilling if we just were able to grasp the concept of submission to Him?  Can I fully live a life where He is the Master, where He dictates the terms and I am to be submissive to His direction in my life?

So… how submissive you?  How has this idea of submitting to God worked out in your life?

Blessings my friend,

-jm

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About The Short Bald Guy

Most of my adult life, I've been in Christian media with 2 years on a church staff and 9 months driving a semi-truck. I don't claim to have any unique wisdom, but I do have a great love for studying the Bible and sharing things God is teaching me from His Word.
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