God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble” James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5

 

Did you ever realize that both James and Peter used this same quote?

 

As I study through it, the really amazing thing is that it’s not a direct quote from anywhere in the Bible. 

 

There are hints of it in Proverbs 3:34 and Psalm 18:27 – but the fact that both of these guys use basically the same words show me something….

 

They were in community together.

 

The Father had spoken this same truth to them as they shared life with one another. Together, they heard the Lord speak to their hearts so strongly that they felt compelled to use the very same wording when they wrote to their “friends back home”. 

 

This is what it’s like to be “body” with a group of believers. 

 

In a day when the mega-church is all the rage, bodylife remains key

 

Bodylife is a small group of believers, coming together to share life on life with one another.

 

Individuals that seek together end up discovering together. The mere diversity of personalities is what makes the blend all the more miraculous.

 

Peter and James had that special bond of bodylife. I can just imagine their “ah-ha” moment as they heard this truth regarding pride and humility. Two very different men hearing the Father speaking to them the exact same truth. That’s when they really knew the Word was from God.

 

Peter was a “speak first and think later” personality. Gregarious and impatient, Peter struggled with an individualistic spirit. He got called out by the Father for misdirected zeal and made promises the night of the crucifixion that he couldn’t keep.

 

James, on the other hand, was a methodical nuts and bolts kinda-guy (just read this epistle!) He had a way of sorting through the situation and getting to a solution. He was so well respected by Peter, that Peter even got into trouble once for worrying too much about what James would think.

 

Yet despite their differences, Peter and James were united in their message.

 

This truth was no longer just a warm, fuzzy thought in the middle of a quiet-time. 

 

When they shared it with one another, it became a point of accountability

 

As long as God’s word remains just between you and Him, the evil one can always tempt you into thinking it wasn’t really from God after all. But, once you become vulnerable to share it with others, and truly listen to how the Lord is speaking to them, you are enlarged to hear more of God. 

 

And, wowza, if you find that He is speaking to others on the same issue, you realize He has just given your bodylife their game plan.

 

Do you really want to hear God speak to you?

 

You must get into a vital relationship with other believers

 

Do you want to know His plan for you?

 

Begin sharing what you think He is saying with others. 

 

Truth resonates among His called-out ones. 

 

It sure did with James and Peter.

 

So, tell me, what has the Lord been saying to you lately?

 

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You are in for a major treat over the next three days and we have a man of both “heart and pen” with us. 

 

I first met Chad Berry when he spent several weeks in Taiwan one summer. Originally from Alabama, Chad ended up on a team of volunteers from South Carolina. Isn’t it just like our Father to have his future wife on that Carolina team?

 

Previously with the Tuscaloosa News, Chad now writes for a large overseas organization. Get ready to eat heartily as he opens James 4:7 to us in a fresh way.

 

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Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” – James 4:7 

 

James’ letter is often hailed for its practicality and straightforward, God-inspired wisdom. Today’s verse is a prime example. In just 14 (English) words, it captures the essence of living as a follower of Jesus. The ramifications are massive. It is as forceful today as it must have been to the 1st century church. 

 

Really, the admonition in this verse goes back even further, to the Fall (Gen. 3). God gives a command. The devil tempts Adam and Eve. Instead of resisting the devil, submitting to God and obeying his command, they rebel against their Creator, believe the father of lies and sin. The rest is history, with us in rebellion against God. 

 

Our world today is certainly reflective of this, making James 4:7 seem as “countercultural” as ever. Especially in the West, the idea of “submitting” and “resisting” goes against the norm.

 

Submit?

 

 I don’t think so.

 

I don’t have to submit to anyone and do anything I don’t want to do. Authority is not to be trusted.

 

Resist temptation? No, we prefer “if it feels good, do it.”  It’s all about me anyway. Sin, if it really exists, is a subjective thing. What’s wrong for you may be right for me. We have natural impulses – why would it be wrong to follow them? The boundaries of absolute truth are ever constricting. We live out our self-made, self-centered theologies. 

 

This is the world we live in and the air we breathe. Following Christ and teaching others to do the same takes place in a context that goes against what we see every day and, indeed, against our sinful nature. Now, let’s look at this verse…

 

Submit yourselves, therefore, to God.”

 

It’s always good practice to go back and look at what “therefore” refers to. In this case, it’s the preceding verse:

 

But he gives us more grace…God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (4:6). 

 

As we submit to God, we should remember and reflect on God’s grace. The Fall wasn’t the end of the story! Jesus came to redeem (“buy us back”) us from our sins, and did so at the cost of his life and rose again, triumphing over death and sin. If you are a believer, God has graciously worked in your heart to awaken you to this gloriously good news and recognize (submit to!) him as Lord and Savior.

 

How does submission grant you hope?