James 4: 7-8
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
While James earlier in his writing says we don’t have because we don’t ask, here we read that we are burdened because we don’t submit.
It is not uncommon for us to either put in little effort, or the wrong sort of effort, and then be surprised when we don’t get what we would like. It is important to check where our effort and our energy are directed.
We treat submission to God as merely agreeing with Him, or perhaps appreciating Him. It is a far greater thing than that. Submission is not passive. It is very active. It is a choice to bring our desires in line with His, our priorities and our behaviour in all of life to line up with His purposes. Now this doesn’t mean we live as if alienated from our own lives, doing only things which we hear remotely from God. He is intimately interested in us and the details of our lives, and shaped us uniquely for His purposes.
It is easy for us to live with an overarching agreement with God, and yet have areas of our life that are not submitted to Him. The test is to look at where our priorities lie and see whether we have invited God into all areas, have we reserved prime place for God? Have we sought His will for our relationships, our finances, our work, our direction?
You see the real work is not in resisting but in submitting. We get this upside down so often. We flail and cry and thrash about either complaining about the enemy being on our case, or in fervently but repeatedly resisting in areas we have never submitted!
What a tragedy to expend all our energy in the wrong area! The effort is not in the resisting but in the submitting. I would suggest it is a similar level of intent and effort, but one pays dividends across our lives where the other gives us at best passing relief.
So what is the effort of submitting?
– search our desires
– understand God’s priorities
– align ourselves
– work with the Holy Spirit to adjust our behaviour and thoughts on a lasting basis
The work is in the first part of this verse, not the second! How good is that?!
Where could you redirect some effort along these lines today?