Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. — James 4:8
James, the half brother of Jesus, can feel like that blunt friend or family member who constantly speaks their mind regardless of the situation. We all have one, unless we’re the one, who seems to be able to cause an awkward silence at a moments notice, or cause conversational eruptions to take place when everyone’s on their best behavior.
James is issuing a warning against worldliness in his letter to churches of Jewish Christians who are suffering persecution from other Jews who have rejected their conversion to Christianity. Because of this, some of these Jewish believers may have been tempted to partake in worldly activities as a way to avoid the suffering they were experiencing.
Sometimes when we’re experiencing resistance or persecution for our faith, our first thought is to not continue stepping out in boldness but in conforming to the world around us in such a way that nobody will be any the wiser that we are people of faith.
What’s interesting is James’s encouragement to these suffering people: draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. The answer for worldliness is not only to cease doing worldly things. To stop doing worldly things and then become smug and pompous for not doing those things anymore is in fact worldly and arrogant! Drawing near to God is an act of humility that requires a spiritual cleansing and purification that only God can do in you. But the first step is drawing near to God. Going to Him with all of your worldly stains and asking to be washed clean of your unrighteousness.
Draw near to God…
Does this feel like the last thing you want to do right now? It’s difficult to look back on the year and start seeing areas where your life has become more deeply conformed to the world. Painful things may surface that reveal patterns in your life that need to be repented of.
Draw near to God…
Remember who you’re drawing near to. The One who has said “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out” (John 6:37). Draw near to the One who drew near to you first, who chose you before the foundation of the world to make His home with you.
Think on things that you seem drawn to in times of stress and anxiety. How have these self-medications helped you? How will you draw near to the Lord once again today and receive His favorable grace?