We should always start with the bible, so we will.
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. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter into mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up.
I sometimes like to start at the end.
My mom is wonderful. It’s funny though, one thing she likes to do before reading a book or watching a movie… is watch the end. That’s right! A complete spoiler. But she figures, why waste my time if they blow the ending? She’s got a point.
When it comes to the Bible we already know the ending. Though we don’t COMPLETELY know. Nor do we know how the end times will TOTALLY fall into place… what we do know is that God wins. Oddly enough, that’s not a spoiler for us… in fact, in our worrying about life, it’s the first thing we forget! (This ought to tell us how much more important movies are to us than God Himself, let that sink in)
That takes me here; beginning with the end of today’s passage… “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up.” If you have any real experience with God, you know that when you try to control things, nothing works. When you give it to God, it all works.
I’ve tried and I’ve seen. 40 years of living and 17 years in ministry (church work) I’ve tried to control my life and I’ve seen others try too. And I’ve seen a lot of failure. While I am exactly where God wants me to be, I’m still hindered by my own control of things in life. I’ve learned to live by this truth:
Let God do the lifting up.
If I elevate myself, I’ll be out of God’s will. If I wait it out (God’s perfect plan comes in waiting), God will be the one to elevate. When God elevates it will be the right time and you will succeed.
But here is the reason I chose to write this post. As I sit with my guitar (literally, strapped to my shoulder now), I’m singing these old songs I’ve written. One comes from this very passage. I’ll record it and post it here when I get a good recording of it, if ever…
God spoke as I sang. God does that. Are you listening? I was tonight and I’m responding.
In the midst of this crazy Coronavirus pandemic and shutdown I thought of this song right away when they started talking of WASHING YOUR HANDS. I felt like I was back in Kindergarten. But I started singing the bridge to my song… “Wash your hands, o, you sinners… purify your hearts of your doubled mind.” I opened up James chapter 4 and read and re-read…
God was saying the same thing as when I was singing that part of the song…
We do need to wash our hands. But not to be cleansed of a virus. To be cleansed of our sin. And especially our doubled mind.
God is coming against our sin. It is time we get back to Him.
The verse continues by saying to replace your laughter with mourning. It seems contradictory to other passages that say there is weeping in the night, but there is joy in the morning (Psalm 30). It’s not contradictory! That’s still true. But we don’t experience joy until we humble ourselves. Put on sack cloth as they did in biblical days. Grieve, mourn, and wail. Our sin should cause us to do that. But it doesn’t. That concerning.
It’s important to note: WE ARE ALL SINNERS.
I don’t write this because I see sin in you but don’t want to deal with my own sin. I write it because I see sin and me and know this: If I struggle as a pastor who study’s, shares, preaches, and prays over others every day… others are struggling in and out of that context too. How much more so outside of it. (Honestly, I’m shocked how pathetic I am. I’m sorry Lord, for what I’ve made it, when it’s all about You.)
I’m a failure. You could call me out on it all you want. I won’t deny it. But I also know the truth.
God only uses failures.
Yes ONLY. Because all people (except Adam and Eve) are failures by nature. We have inherited from Adam a sin nature. But God did not create him that way. God is in the business of restoring us back to that perfect relationship. I look forward to experiencing that perfect communion in heaven one day. But until then I will be a modern day prophet and preach His amazing and miraculous, life-giving, God-breathed, living and active Word.
Ignore the accusations. There are many for every single one of us. Stop listening to the devil who wants to degrade you. Stay with God, submit to Him. Resist the devil, flee from him. God will lift you up. God will lift me up. But I do know this (James 4:6b):
God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.
Not perfect. Humble.
My lyrics say it this way:
Grace to the humble. Your kingdom to the poor. What I lay down, You lift up.
Consider today what you must wash your hands of (that is, your life)… specifically focus on what God has pressed on my heart this night; YOUR DOUBLED MIND.
There’s my two cents.