James 4:7a “Submit yourselves, then, to God.”
Christians can get life wrong in a lot of ways. They can get loud and mean, greedy and selfish, sexually permissive and promiscuous, hypocritical and judgmental, just to name a few. In the early verses of chapter 4, James seems to have seen some of all of this going on in the people to whom he was writing. He doesn’t mince words confronting their bad behavior.
When we come to our senses again, God’s grace is there to forgive us and pick up the pieces. That leads to a different kind of life. James wants us to understand what that life will look like, a life lived in view of God’s grace. It begins with understanding our place, where we stand in relation to God.
God is not a tool we use to get what we want. He is not a wax nose we can bend and shape to look the way we want. Getting God right starts with understanding that he is on top. “Submit yourselves…to God.” Put yourselves under his will, under his direction, and under his care. Stop fighting him for who is going to be the boss.
He doesn’t force you to do this. How many times in your life have you looked at what God wants, and then decided to do what you wanted to do instead? He didn’t stop you, did he?
But he wants to spare us of the consequences of our foolishness, the damage we do to our families, our friends, our bodies, and ultimately our eternal souls. Since he is a gentleman, he doesn’t tackle us with his power, pin us to the ground, and twist our arm behind our back until we cry uncle. He woos us with his grace. He gives up his only Son to save us. He forgives us without end.
As this love wheedles its way into our hearts, we learn to let go. We learn to trust him, even if too often we still don’t understand him. It’s okay to let him be the boss, to give him the final say, because you know that in the end, he is going to get it right every time. If we are going to live our lives in view of God’s grace, we will submit to God. Under his gracious direction, we come out on top.