Daily Devotional

“An Enemy of God”

"You adulterous people!  Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God." James 4:4

What a statement!  Our beings rise up against this stark, either-or demand!  He cannot really mean that!  It is just a manner of speaking!

But Jesus Himself said that we cannot serve two masters.  We will hate one and love the other, or vice versa.  We cannot serve both – the world as master, and the Lord as master (Matt. 6:24).  In our worldly thinking, in our fleshly softness, we want to serve both, love both.  But Jesus says, NO!

I think that sense of wanting to serve two masters is evidence of a self-driven life, wanting to get as much as we can from both sides!  Jesus said He would rather have us be hot or cold than lukewarm (Rev. 3:16)!  Rather cold than lukewarm!  A lukewarm person is truly serving himself, and therefore serving the world and the flesh, no matter what kind of show or argument to the contrary!

This command to be sold-out to Christ, to be ready to suffer or even die for Him, is simply what is needed to serve Him!  Do you see it?  There is no other way!  It is unknown to any of us how much we might suffer, or whether we will have a premature death.  But we must come to grips with it all ahead of time, by faith.
Side “A” is the world, the flesh, the self and the devil.  Side “B” is the Lord.  If we choose side “A” stuff, we get all that comes with it.  If we choose side “B” stuff, we get all that comes with that, too.  The declaration by the Lord is that choosing Him, choosing side “B,” being a bondservant of Christ, is very much more profitable, in the long-run, than is choosing side “A.”

This we must take by faith, because in appearances, “A” seems better.  It is the visible, short-term view, and is more attractive.  But if we believe in Jesus, we not only get to serve and suffer for and enjoy Him in this life, we are granted an eternity of blessing and joy (yes, even pleasures, Ps. 16:11!).

The short-term, worldly “A” will yield more superficial pleasure and pride, but all of it  always turns out to be hollow and empty, without meaning.  And it all dies as quickly as it grows up.
I think we have all chosen side “B.”  But it is folly to try to imagine how we will do if called on to suffer a lot.  Or whether we could retain our faith if challenged with death!  I never feel like I could do either one!

But what is all that to us?!  Our focus is on Christ and our service to Him.  It is a very much better life than going after the world!  It really is more joyful, more pleasing and more meaningful than gaining the whole world.  It is simply a better life, even on earth!  I would never go back to my old life!  What a cesspool of slavery and misery that was!

And if we happen to encounter great sufferings in His name along the way, or an early death, we will have all we need to cope, and even glorify Him…then!  The boldness, the courage, the words!  We don’t need grace for that now.  We focus now on our love for Jesus our Savior.  We have what we need, now.  It is enough.  Living in fear of all the bad stuff which might happen is counterproductive.
But living happily by faith is a world of blessing and holy purpose.  What could ever be better than friendship with God?  You are on the right track, I am sure.  Re-up on being sold out to Jesus, and press onward with a smile and a great hope!  Just charge ahead, and keep going!  You will make it to the end, blessed in His presence!

Look for James 4, Part III, in early 2022, after our Advent series is over.  
English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.