Have you ever played basketball with someone and every time they got the ball they would shoot it? Or in soccer, they get the ball and try to go all the way to the goal by themselves? It’s even worse when you are standing wide open with no defender near you…
There was a guy I was friends with in High School who was like this…I mean, it didn’t matter where he was on the court, when he got the ball, you knew, he was going to try to score. He would put his head down and just muscle his way towards the goal until he had to shoot some absurd, off-balance shot. Now I wasn’t perfect by any means, but I was a pass first player. So this really caused me to scratch my head. It was painful to watch. He was so determined to make it all happen on his own.
When you read through the book of James in the Bible, you find a very vivid picture of what faith is and how to live it out. You must remember that God exists for himself, not for us. So life is not ultimately about our individual happiness but about us aligning ourselves with his plan. And James continues to attack this idea more as he continues writing in chapter 4.
What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God.3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. 4 You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. 5 Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us? 6 But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud, but shows favor to the humble.”
7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. 11 Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. 12 There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor? 13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. 17 If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them. (James 4:1-17)
The essence of what James is saying here is that we tend to put our faith in ourselves rather than God.
We say our faith is in God, but our lives are more dependent on our own abilities.
So what does the do-it-all mindset look like?
- They like to justify (vs. 1-4)
Our natural tendency is to justify our lives so we don’t have to change the way we are living.
We think that we are entitled to God’s blessing even though we are living in opposition to him. We want God to overlook our deliberate sin so we can get what we want. And James is saying, “Don’t you know that it doesn’t work that way?” Justification is dangerous because it clouds our vision of sin. We lose sight of what the Bible teaches as right and wrong and we can quickly be separated from God.
- They like to point the finger (vs. 11-12)
Our natural tendency is to find faults in others so we don’t have to deal with the fault in our own lives.
It is so much easier to judge the wrong in another person than to correct the wrong in us. Matthew (7:3-5) wrote about this in the Bible when he said, “Stop looking at the sawdust in someone else’s eye when you have a huge board sticking out of your eye.” That is a paraphrase, of course. We all have our own blocks of wood to deal with so why are we so concerned with cleaning someone else’s life up? One day we will all stand before God and give an account for our lives. You will never stand before God and give an account for someone else’s life.
- They like to plan the future
Our natural tendency is the figure out what our future looks like so we don’t have to depend on God to lead us.
Everyone wants to know what will happen. Will I be successful? Will I get married? Where will I work and live? We strategically try to layout our lives as if we have to turn it in as a homework assignment. But none of us are all knowing and we cannot see everything that life will bring our way. Proverbs 3:5 says “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.” When we depend on our own understanding, we are limited in understanding, but when we depend on God’s understanding, we are unlimited.
So how do we avoid the do-it-all mindset? We must realize God is jealous for us and continues to show us more grace.
Look at it in verse 5 & 6…
Or you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us? But he gives us more grace.
Everything in this statement is about God. And this is good news because, since you are God’s creation, you belong to him. And that means he doesn’t want anyone else to possess you other than him! That is why he shows us more grace. So we will humble ourselves and turn to him. So we will stop trying to do-it-all on our own and let him be our God. This is a mindset change. What did Paul say to the Romans? Be transformed by the renewing of your mind. He encouraged a mindset change so you can fully allow God to transform you and accomplish what he wants in your life. Even when you become a Christ follower, there is more transformation God wants to do in your life.So he says stop justifying your life. Stop pointing the finger at other people. Stop trying to plan your entire life as if you can control it. Instead, what does verse 7 say? “Submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil. Come near to God.”
Your faith is not about trying harder. It’s about trusting more.
The more you are willing to trust God, the stronger your faith will be. It’s freeing to know that we are incapable of being perfect. It takes a pressure off of performing. It’s no longer about impressing others with how spiritual you are. Now it’s all about depending on Jesus.
God has given you more grace. Respond by running to him.