Living Close to God
1What is the cause of your conflicts and quarrels with each other? Doesn’t the battle begin inside of you as you fight to have your own way and fulfill your own desires? 2You jealously want what others have so you begin to see yourself as better than others. You scheme with envy and harm # 4:2 Or “kill,” however, the Greek words for “kill” and “envy” are almost the same. others to selfishly obtain what you crave—that’s why you quarrel and fight. And all the time you don’t obtain what you want because you won’t ask God for it! 3And if you ask, you won’t receive it for you’re asking with corrupt motives, # 4:3 The Greek word for corrupt motives is kakos and can be translated “sick,” or “sickly.” James is exhorting us not to pray “sickly prayers.” seeking only to fulfill your own selfish desires. 4You have become spiritual adulterers who are having an affair, an unholy relationship with the world. Don’t you know that flirting with the world’s values places you at odds with God? Whoever chooses to be the world’s friend makes himself God’s enemy!
5Does the Scripture mean nothing to you that says, “The Spirit that God breathed into our hearts is a jealous Lover who intensely desires to have more and more of us”? # 4:5 Although it is difficult to find a verse from the Old Testament that reads exactly how Jacob quotes it, the possibility remains that it becomes a general statement of what the Bible teaches, or even a quotation from an older translation not available today. We must always realize that the Holy Spirit pursues us relentlessly and takes it very personally when we turn from him to pursue friendship with the world.
6But he continues to pour out more and more grace # 4:6 Or “he gives us a greater gift” or “the grace [favor] he gives us is stronger.” upon us. For it says,
“God resists you when you are proud
but continually pours out grace when you are humble.” # 4:6 See Prov. 3:34.
7So then, surrender to God. Stand up to the devil and resist him and he will flee in agony. # 4:7 As translated from the Aramaic. The accuser will flee in agony because of the One who stands with you. 8Move your heart closer and closer to God, and he will come even closer to you. # 4:8 The Aramaic can be translated “and he will be touching you.” But make sure you cleanse your life, you sinners, and keep your heart pure and stop doubting. # 4:8 Or “you double-minded.” 9Feel the pain of your sin, be sorrowful and weep! Let your joking around # 4:9 As translated from the Aramaic. be turned into mourning and your joy into deep humiliation. 10Be willing to be made low before the Lord and he will exalt you!
11Dear friends, as part of God’s family, never speak against another family member, for when you slander a brother or sister you violate # 4:11 Or “speak against.” God’s law of love. And your duty is not to make yourself a judge of the law of love # 4:11 See also Lev. 19:18; James 4:8. by saying that it doesn’t apply to you, # 4:11 Or “to be a judge of the law.” but your duty is to obey it! # 4:11 Implied in the argument Jacob makes to refrain from being a judge of the law. 12There is only one true Lawgiver and Judge, the One who has the power to save and destroy—so who do you think you are to judge your neighbor?
13Listen, those of you who are boasting, “Today or tomorrow we’ll go to another city and spend some time and go into business and make heaps of profit!” 14But you don’t have a clue what tomorrow may bring. For your fleeting life is but a warm breath of air that is visible in the cold only for a moment and then vanishes! 15Instead you should say, “Our tomorrows are in the Lord’s hands and if he is willing we will live life to its fullest and do this or that.” 16But here you are, boasting in your ignorance, for to be presumptuous about what you’ll do tomorrow is evil!
17So if you know of an opportunity to do the right thing today, yet you refrain from doing it, you’re guilty of sin.