MONDAY: Read James chapter 4
- We are asked to choose between a life that focuses primarily on self-love or a life that is focused wholly on God’s love.
- Repentance is the foundation of a life lived in humility.
- Humility allows us the courage to fight evil, the grace to love one another, and the peace to rest in assurance that we are always welcome to enter into the presence of God.
Prayer: O Father, give us the humility which realizes its ignorance, admits it mistakes, recognizes its need, welcomes advice, and accepts rebuke. Help us always to praise rather than to criticize, to sympathize rather than to condemn, to encourage rather than to discourage, to build rather than to destroy, and to think of people at their best rather than at their worst. This we ask for They Names’ Sake, Amen. (a prayer by William Barclay).
TUESDAY: Read James 4:1-3, 1 John 5:13-21
- The conflict between people is a symptom of the conflict that exists within people. The conflict within people is the conflict that exists between the will of self versus the will of God.
- When we pray the will of God, God hears and answers our prayers.
Reflect: C.S. Lewis lived in the early to mid 1900s. He was a former atheist turned Christian Apologist. In his novel The Great Divorce he wrote “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, "Thy will be done," and those to whom God says, in the end, "Thy will be done." All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. Those who knock it is opened.”
Do you agree with his assessment? Why or why not?
WEDNESDAY: James chapter 4: 4-6, Matthew 6: 19-24
- What we value as treasure is where we also place our hearts. God wants to be the only treasure we seek.
- History records humanity’s frequent unfaithfulness towards God. When God demands our faithfulness, God also empowers us to be faithful through gifts of his grace and mercy.
- Humility recognizes that we need God’s grace in order to be faithful towards God.
Act: Write a list of the top 5 items that consume the vast majority of your time, your efforts, and your resources. These are your top 5 values (or treasures). Does a personal relationship with Jesus Christ appear on this list? Does your own name appear on this list? Why or why not?
THURSDAY: Read James 4:7-10, Isaiah 1:10-20
- Repentance means to turn around. God asks us (begs us) to turn away from what cannot help us, what cannot save us, and what cannot love us towards someone who can – God himself.
- We cannot repent from our sin, that is “turn away from” our sin, if we do not recognize the sin in our lives. Pride leads us to either deny our sin or to blame our sin onto someone or something else. Humility leads us to acknowledge our sin as our own and to seek forgiveness.
Act: These 4 short verses in James contain no less than 10 action words. Circle them. Which of these actions is God calling you to do this week?
FRIDAY: Read James 4:11-12, Matthew 18:21-35
- After confessing our own sin, James reminds us to not speak unkindly, or to cast judgment, towards another person’s sin.
- To receive forgiveness from God means we must grant others forgiveness as well.
Prayer: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the glory forever. Lord, I thank you for the encouragement and discipline the Letter of James has given us to remind us that the Lord’s Prayer, the prayer you taught us, is to be lived out loud through our actions and words. Amen.
SATURDAY: Read James 4:13-16, Luke 12:22-48
- Pride tells us we can plan our lives on our own; without God’s wisdom, guidance, or even presence. Humility remembers that God is sovereign and that we are ultimately dependent upon God for our daily bread.
Reflect: In what ways has God grown you in humility? In what ways do you continue to struggle with pride?
Want to learn more about the topics covered in the Letter of James?
The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis. This is a fictional story about the citizens of hell taking a bus ride to heaven. Once in heaven they are given the chance to stay. The story is a meditation on pride and humility and explores the idea that Hell is a place where the gate is locked from the inside.