There is a single thread that links this all together and if we get it, it can keep us in the right place.
The book pivots in 4:7-10
So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. 9 Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.
CS Lewis described humility as not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less.
The test of humility;
When you work into a room do you need everyone to see you
Do you always need to have the last word?
Do your ideas always have to be best?
Tim Keller The Freedom of self forgetfulness – based on 1 Cor 4
So look at Apollos and me as mere servants of Christ who have been put in charge of explaining God’s mysteries. 2 Now, a person who is put in charge as a manager must be faithful. 3 As for me, it matters very little how I might be evaluated by you or by any human authority. I don’t even trust my own judgment on this point. 4 My conscience is clear, but that doesn’t prove I’m right. It is the Lord himself who will examine me and decide.
5 So don’t make judgments about anyone ahead of time—before the Lord returns. For he will bring our darkest secrets to light and will reveal our private motives. Then God will give to each one whatever praise is due.
He’s addressing a personality cult issue and says ‘I don’t care about what people think about you?’
When is your ego offended?
When do you know you’ve got a toe? When it’s sore
When do you feel your ego? When it’s infected by pride or damaged by hurt.
Humility biblically is adapting our lives to be conformed to Christ.
This is what James means
Learning not to have to be the centre
Of the room/ pulpit/ conversation
Putting God in the centre.
And be redefined by Christ.
The church of Jesus Christ in the west needs a visitation of the Holy Spirit
And to discover humility again
2 Chron 7:14 very famous 14 Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.
But 2 Chron 6 is a very humble prayer. Asking WHATEVER happens – if they turn to you, will you please help them?
28 “If there is a famine in the land or a plague or crop disease or attacks of locusts or caterpillars, or if your people’s enemies are in the land besieging their towns—whatever disaster or disease there is— 29 and if your people Israel pray about their troubles or sorrow, raising their hands toward this Temple, 30 then hear from heaven where you live, and forgive. Give your people what their actions deserve, for you alone know each human heart. 31 Then they will fear you and walk in your ways as long as they live in the land you gave to our ancestors.
So 7:14 is the answer to that.
If you humble yourself – I will
And the tragedy is, they did not.
They didn’t learn that lesson
They forgot it.
God wants us to be humble.
To turn from our sin. The sin of changing what’s in the Bible, accommodating to what is worldly wisdom.
The mark of church is not ‘did I enjoy it?’ That appeals only to our pride.
We must not depart from the authoritative scripture.
Not pointing out. Repentance has to begin with the house of God.
The church will not thrive without repentance and asking for his empowering.
Humility in how to live controlled lives and not in self consumed conflict.
He’s talking to believers who are fighting and asking and self-focused. ‘No wonder God is not answering you.’ It’s all about what YOU want!
So many of those who have lost it all for Christ – have so much more than we have.
He calls them ‘adulteresses.’ He’s not talking about marriage, but to the bride – who have become unfaithful harlots, like Israel.
Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God.
Is that us? Is our church a faithful bride?
How would you define sin in a marital relationship? Isn’t sin against love. A decision hurting the groom who you are betrothed to.
Every time we sin, it’s not just ‘breaking God’s code’ – it’s breaking God’s heart.
The world here = KOSMOS. The world system that tells people they can do what they want and not what God wants is to become a friend of the world.
We are allowing ourselves to believe the lie that says ‘Enjoy yourself however you want leads to life.’
That leads to DEATH.
It is God’s way that leads to life.
We have no right to continue as particular churches or denominations if we do not remain faithful to God. DO NOT ASSUME you have the right to survive outside of submission and humility to God.
So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.
You can’t resist the devil if you’re in bed with him.
He is defeated! God gets the last word.
Vs 11-12 Learning how to treat one another in humility
The words we use – in church. Social media battles – among Christians?
Don’t say it on a blog if you wouldn’t say it to their face.
11 Don’t speak evil against each other, dear brothers and sisters.[d] If you criticize and judge each other, then you are criticizing and judging God’s law. But your job is to obey the law, not to judge whether it applies to you. 12 God alone, who gave the law, is the Judge. He alone has the power to save or to destroy. So what right do you have to judge your neighbor?
He is not saying ‘I can never judge.’ Jesus didn’t say that either. He talks about exercising judgement correctly. You open yourself to God to judge you, with the same criteria. That should humble us.
We compare our best to others worst. What if we compared our worst to others best.
James 5 :1-6
It’s about self reliance again. You are not in control of your life and future. Your every breath is a gift.
He challenges wealthy oppressors who exploit others – this is not aimed at the millionaire but where we buy our clothes and coffee.
We are not the masters of our own destiny!
Twice he says ‘Come now!’ (Let us reason together!)
Humility in the face of suffering.
The farmer waits,
Above all – don’t swear.
Humility in the face of suffering is the hardest thing
When will this end?
How long oh Lord? A little while longer.
Humble yourself. Let me remind you – you may not know what will happen tomorrow but God does.
Death is not a defeat for us. Suffering and death never get the last word. Every bit of it was nailed to a cross. He is faithful.
The victory of God looks like those being martyred whispering Hallelujah in North Korea because his love endures forever.
The gospel is not easy answers. Hang on for healing and hope. God does not always do it this side of heaven. But he will.
Vs 13- end
The humility of living in Christian community
When I can’t sing I need you to sing louder.
When you can’t – I’m here to carry you through.
We need the church to carry us.