Why is it that we insist on being arrogant?
Why do we insist on lambasting others in public?
Why do we act as if we have more wisdom, and are more perfect than others, especially our fellow Christians?
The answer is obvious, but not easy to accept. It is a distinct lack of humility. A lack of acceptance that we are friends with the world, instead of being gracious. A desire to live according to our earthly passions, and seek happiness in worldly pursuits. And because we seek to satisfy our worldly passions, our motives cannot be pure. Our motives are born out of a desire to be at peace with the world, to be rich and accepted and admired amongst others.
God does not like that.
This morning I read a comment from someone that was dismayed at another for praying in public, quoting from Mat 6 to say that this person should not pray in public. But was this comment made as brotherly instruction? No, of course not, it was made to score personal points in an inane argument. To try and show that the commenter was somehow a better person than the one who went down on his knees in public for a few seconds before a sports contest.
It will serve all of us well to remember and live like this:
Jas 4:11 Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.
Jas 4:12 There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?
Jas 4:13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”–
Jas 4:14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.
Jas 4:15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”
Jas 4:16 As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.
There is a huge difference between trying to help a fellow Christian in his or her walk with the Lord, and blindly throwing out criticism and insults in the name of the Lord, quoting God’s will against another. That is nothing but boasting that you know better, that you know more about God’s grace and that you are somehow more wise about where that grace goes.
We are all guilty of leveraging some criticism against others from time to time. We should recognize that when we do so, we are not humble before God. We are simply boasting in our own wisdom, greed and self-importance.
James tells us how to act, or react when we do that:
Jas 4:7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
Jas 4:8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
Jas 4:9 Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.
Jas 4:10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
Be humble. Don’t be happy that you scored cheap points, but be sad that you exhibited your worldly passions at the cost of another. Instead, draw near to God and be humble before Him, like you should be humble before others.
In the end, this is a chilling reminder of what sin is:
Jas 4:17 So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.
Sin pulls us away from God. It makes us into enemies of God. Are you willing to make an enemy out of the Almighty to look important before others? To score cheap points against others? To be able to boast how you know better?
We are all guilty of this…knowing the right thing to do and not doing it. As you walk with Christ this week, try to do the right thing. Humble yourself before God. Draw near to Him. And God will be near to you.