James, Chapter 4
Causes of Division.
1Where do the wars and where do the conflicts among you come from? Is it not from your passions* that make war within your members?a2You covet but do not possess. You kill and envy but you cannot obtain; you fight and wage war. You do not possess because you do not ask.3You ask but do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.4Adulterers!* Do you not know that to be a lover of the world means enmity with God? Therefore, whoever wants to be a lover of the world makes himself an enemy of God.b5Or do you suppose that the scripture speaks without meaning when it says, “The spirit that he has made to dwell in us tends toward jealousy”?*6But he bestows a greater grace; therefore, it says:c
“God resists the proud,
but gives grace to the humble.”*
7So submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.d8Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you of two minds.e9Begin to lament, to mourn, to weep. Let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy into dejection.10Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you.f
11Do not speak evil of one another, brothers. Whoever speaks evil of a brother or judges his brother speaks evil of the law and judges the law.* If you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.12There is one lawgiver and judge who is able to save or to destroy. Who then are you to judge your neighbor?g
Warning against Presumption.*13Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we shall go into such and such a town, spend a year there doing business, and make a profit”—14you have no idea what your life will be like tomorrow.* You are a puff of smoke that appears briefly and then disappears.h15Instead you should say, “If the Lord wills it,* we shall live to do this or that.”16But now you are boasting in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.17i So for one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, it is a sin.*
* [4:1–12] The concern here is with the origin of conflicts in the Christian community. These are occasioned by love of the world, which means enmity with God (4). Further, the conflicts are bound up with failure to pray properly (cf. Mt 7:7–11; Jn 14:13; 15:7; 16:23), that is, not asking God at all or using God’s kindness only for one’s pleasure (Jas 4:2–3). In contrast, the proper dispositions are submission to God, repentance, humility, and resistance to evil (Jas 4:7–10).