The verses today from James 4 are so rich and relevant that it seems to be best to just let them speak for themselves. They are especially fitting as a follow-up to the series of sermons on the Ten Commandments.
James writes, “Those conflicts and disputes among you, where do they come from? Do they not come from your cravings that are at war within you? You want something and do not have it, so you commit murder. And you covet something and cannot obtain it, so you engage in disputes and conflicts. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, in order to spend what you get on your pleasures. Adulterers! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore, whoever wishes to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is for nothing that the Scripture says, “God yearns jealously for the spirit that he has made to dwell in us?” (NRSVA)
But he gives all the more grace; therefore it says,
“God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
It is no accident that this Scripture passage comes shortly after Thanksgiving, a day filled with grace and giving and so much joy. Hugs, expressions of thankfulness, and love filling the room is commonplace. I remember the old Thanksgiving hymn we used to sing at every Thanksgiving service:
“We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing; He chastens and hastens His will to make known; The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing: Sing praises to his Name: He forgets not his own.”
I ran into a man at church who I hardly know, and he said to me, “I am so thankful for you and Jackie, for your children and your grandchildren.” Wow!” What a gift! I immediately shared my thankfulness with someone else.
The Scripture says, “God yearns jealously for the spirit that he has made to dwell in us.” What a great theme in which to enter the Advent season, where that indwelling Holy Spirit will bring us a spirit of hope, of love, of peace, of joy, of thankfulness. And the more thankful we are, the more we wish to reach out to those in need. Celebrate each moment between Thanksgiving and Christmas, where we can experience something of a foretaste of eternal life to come. Grace and peace to each of us!
Questions for reflection:
- Where do you expect to experience joy during this Advent season?
- How can you share this love and peace with others?
- During quiet time each day, begin by asking yourself, “What am I most thankful for today?”