Friendship with the World
4:1Whence come wars and whence come fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your pleasures that war in your members? 4:2Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and covet, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war; ye have not, because ye ask not. 4:3Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss1, that ye may spend it in your pleasures.2 4:4Ye adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore would be a friend of the world maketh himself an enemy of God. 4:5Or think ye that the scripture speaketh in vain? Doth the spirit which he made to dwell in us long unto envying? 4:6But he giveth more grace. Wherefore the scripture saith,
God resisteth the proud,
but giveth grace to the humble.3
4:7Be subject therefore unto God; but resist the devil, and he will flee from you.4 4:8Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye doubleminded. 4:9Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. 4:10Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall exalt you.
- Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss. But Jesus says, "You ask and you receive not because you ask amiss" (James 4:3). In other words, you ask in a begging attitude, you're pleading and supplicating for something, something which is already the reality of your being. You see, interestingly enough, if you look up the word, "Ask," in both the Hebrew and the Latin or the Greek root words as they are translated from the scriptures, you find that the strongest connotation is to claim or demand. Not to beg, but to claim. You ask for electricity when you walk into a room by claiming it, by turning on the switch. The power is already there, but you claim it. The Old Testament says, "Concerning the work of my hands, command ye me." Now this is a vital realization of truth, you see. You ask for light by getting out into the sun, or by raising the shades. You ask for air by lifting up the window. You ask for health and for life by accepting it, by claiming it, by demanding it. You don't have to beg God to hear you because God, as far as you're concerned, is the healing principle that is ever present and has nothing whatever to do except to be perfect life and health within you. — Eric Butterworth, Practical Metaphysics, Prayer.
- that ye may spend it in your pleasures. Nor will crying and beseeching bring spiritual understanding. Hundreds of people have tried this method, and have not received that for which they earnestly but ignorantly sought. They have not received, because they did not know how to take that which God freely offered. Others have sought with selfish motives this spiritual understanding, or the power it would give them. "Ye ask, and receive not, because you ask amiss, that ye may spend it in your pleasures" (or to serve selfish ends) — Emilie Cady, Lessons in Truth, Spiritual Understanding.
- giveth grace to the humble. This grace is realized by those who are small in their own eyes, in so far as the lesser self is concerned. cf I Pet. 5:5.
- resist the devil, and he will flee from you. "The devil" is a state of consciousness built by man when he has no explanation for the negative experiences in his life, and when he feels that there must be something outside of himself that caused them. In such a state of consciousness we are apt to view "the world" and "the flesh" as part of the outside forces that are causing us unhappiness. "The devil" in our life is the will faculty being used in the wrong direction, resulting in adverse states of consciousness that in turn produce inharmonies in our manifest life. Jesus' command was to "resist not evil" (Matt. 5:39 A.V.), but we also read in James 4:7, "resist the devil, and he will flee from you." If we attempt to fight conditions that are not good, we only succeed in binding them closer to us. On the other hand, if we do not do positive mental work to handle the adverse states of consciousness ("the devil") we will find ourself letting them rule our life. The "resistance" referred to in the quotation from James is the firm stand that we take in refusing to allow wrong beliefs to become our master. Through denial of them we prepare the way for the Truth in the same way that Jesus said, "Get thee hence, Satan [our adverse thought] ... Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve" (Matt. 4:10). Overcoming "the devil" is only possible through understanding that the only presence and power in our life is God. "To this end was the Son of God manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil" (I John 3:8). Only as we show forth (manifest) our Son-of-God self, the Christ, are we able to remove the error conditions that have been set up by our own adverse states of consciousness ("the devil"). — Unity Correspondence Lesson series 2, lesson 5, annotation 12
Warning against Judging Another
4:11Speak not one against another, brethren. He that speaketh against a brother, or judgeth his brother, speaketh against the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judgest the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge. 4:12One only is the lawgiver and judge, even he who is able to save and to destroy: but who art thou that judgest thy neighbor?
Boasting about Tomorrow
4:13Come now, ye that say, To-day or to-morrow we will go into this city, and spend a year there, and trade, and get gain: 4:14whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. What is your life? For ye are a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. 4:15For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall both live, and do this or that. 4:16But now ye glory in your vauntings: all such glorying is evil. 4:17To him therefore that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.
Fillmore Bible Society members who contributed to these annotations include Mark Hicks.
Following Entry: James 5