While stating the qualities of peace found in God’s wisdom, James asked his readers to examine why they were at war among themselves and even within their own souls. He answered his own question by stating that their lusts for pleasures had kept them from a right relationship with God. Some had neglected to pray while others had prayed for the wrong reasons.
Christians are taught to rely upon God for their needs. Their prayers must be for their needs—not pleasures and to be according to His will. God will not grant improper requests.
James called these Christians adulteresses because of their unfaithfulness in their marriage to Christ. He condemned these spiritual adulteresses for their relationship with the world as a wife who has a relationship with a man who is not her husband. Christians who become friends of the world become enemies of God for He is a jealous God.
Humility is a great characteristic in the eyes of God. James pointed out to his readers that, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
Those who would be humble must submit themselves to God by drawing near to Him, cleansing their hands (lives) and purifying their hearts. They must turn from and resist the devil and all that is evil. In their humility, God will lift them up.
Continuing the topic of the improper use of the tongue, James pointed out the need for Christians to refrain from speaking evil or slandering one another. If an evil report is false, it injures an innocent person and causes outsiders to unfairly criticize the church. If it is true, discussing the matter in the community will also bring reproach against the church. Matters of sin within the church must be conducted privately and not through the “court of public opinion.”
James warned his readers about being judgmental. Judging our brother shows a failure to love our brother (neighbor) as ourselves. One can recognize the fruits of good and evil, but judgment belongs to God, the only one true and righteous Lawgiver.
Failure to include God in one’s plans for the future is a serious error in spiritual judgment. James condemned those who would presume to carefully plan their lives with an “I WILL” attitude as if they would live forever. King Solomon warned, “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth.”
James stated that no one knows what will happen tomorrow. He described life as a vapor or fog that appears briefly and then dissipates into the atmosphere. Instead of feeling self-sufficient, leaving God out of our lives and arrogantly boasting of what we WILL DO, we should say, “If the LORD WILLS, we shall live and do this or that.” If one does not expressly say, “If the Lord wills,” it should be understood that he has that attitude within his heart.
As Christians, those to whom James was writing knew the Scriptures and the importance of relying upon God in their lives. He informed them that to fail to act properly upon their knowledge was as sinful as it is to disobey a direct command.