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James 4 - Christian Hedonism

Glorifying God and fulfilling your passions do not need to be mutually exclusive concepts.

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James 4 Summary

James 4 is comprised of up to five different passages. I say up to because it can be it's hard to know where James actually meant the transitions to be.

  1. v1-7a - Going after what our sinful selves want leads to friction and fighting. Instead of trying to grab all this world offers, humble and submit yourself to God.

  2. v7b-10 - These verses show what it means to be humble and submit: draw near to God, cleanse yourself, and be willing to not be entertained every moment.

  3. v11-12 - Don't talk bad of others, especially other believers.

  4. v13-16 - Realize that each day is a gift and your future is completely in God's hands.

  5. v17 - God's law is written on your heart, so for you to go against your conscience, is sinful.

Dig Deeper

We talk often about the importance of being aligned with God's will, especially when it comes to asking God for things in prayer.

It's easy to become skeptical about prayer, because we read promises like the one Jesus gave in John 14:14, "If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it," and yet all of us can name lots of things we've asked for and have not received.

James gives us a hint as to why that is:

You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions (v3).

Essentially, you don't receive because your passions are out of alignment with God's will. Literally translated, you're asking for things to use for hedonism.

Theologians like CS Lewis and John Piper promote a term that can be jolting: we must espouse Christian hedonism. This simply means that God's glory and our pleasure are not mutually exclusive concepts. True fulfillment is found when your life is centered on glorifying God.

In other words, the best way to experience true pleasure and passion in this world is to prayerfully ask for things aligned with God's will, that glorify Him.

AAA Prayer:

  • ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our loving Father who will come near to you as you come near to Him (v8)

  • ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray that your passion and pleasure will be glorifying God in every aspect of life.




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