View Full Version : Chapter 4 Overview - James 4

04-29-2008, 09:09 AM
Chapter 4 Overview - James 4
Written by LaRosa Johnson
Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Now that we have completed the third chapter of James, we will now embark upon our study of James 4. As we have done previously, we will spend the first devotion for this chapter to get a broad scope of what we're going to be dealing with; it will do us no good to do a verse-by-verse study if we don't have an understanding of the overarching message that is being delivered, as well as tying it into the previous three chapters that we have already studied. Before moving forward, I recommend that you take a few moments to sit down and thoroughly read through the entire chapter for yourself and then continue reading this devotional study.

After reading this chapter, one of the things that you will notice is that this is a rather short chapter, only containing a total of seventeen (17) verses, which also happens to be the shortest chapter in this particular epistle. Don't allow the brevity of this chapter to fool you though, as there is a multitude of truth packed into these verses, especially in regard to bringing about a practical application of the truths presented in the previous chapter. In my outline, I have chosen to break this chapter down into two primary sections: 1) Warning against worldly indulgence (James 4:1-12) and 2) boasting about tomorrow (James 4:13-17). We could very easily break the first section down even further as it deals with quite a few different warnings including: warnings against pride, judging our brothers, and godly submission to name only a few. As we go through this chapter, one of the things that will become increasingly evident is the way in which this chapter so closely relates to James 3 when it spoke of the perils of the tongue and contrasting worldly and heavenly wisdom.

We will spend the remainder of our time today looking at the outline for this chapter.

Beginning with James 4:1-3, we immediately run into a difficult passage to interpret and understand; in this section we find out that there is quarreling going on amongst the believers. Our study in these verses will run the course of several days so that we can have a full grasp of what this is all about, as it helps to provide a greater context for James' previous words, as well as his forthcoming ones in the remainder of the chapter. This is followed by a warning in verses 4-6 that we are not to be friends with the world because it is in stark contrast to the ways of the Lord (as we saw in James 3:13-18). It is also in this passage that we see just how jealous God is and how much He desires for our focus to be directed toward Him. In verses 7-10, James gives the solution to their troubles and desire for worldly indulgences. Simply put, these believers needed to submit to God, draw near to Him, and come to genuine repentance before the Lord. After this antidote, James again gives a word of condemnation (verses 11 and 12), this time against speaking out and making themselves a judge of their fellow believers.

Making a break for the second half of the chapter, James now goes on to speak to them about boasting in the future and trusting in the work of their own hands (James 4:13-16). With this section only being four verses and a lot of it being descriptive, one would think that there isn't much to this section at all, other than the simple warning, but there is so much more beneath the surface. It's not just about boasting and trusting in the work of your own hands, but also giving us a picture of how fragile life is and who is really in control. The chapter then closes in verse 17 with yet another warning, this time to make sure you are doing the right thing; if you know what to do, and fail to do it, then that too is a sin. In other words, James is speaking of, what many Bible teachers like to call, the sin of omission.

As we can see, we will have our hands full with this chapter, even though it is only seventeen verses. James 4 has a lot to teach us about ourselves and the sin of pride that lives within us; prayerfully we will walk away from this chapter better equipped to deal with pride and the ways of this world so that we would be fully reliant upon the Lord. And because there is so much to learn in this chapter, we will take our time to get through it, instead of rushing and missing out on the abundance of God's truth. Until next time, pray that the Lord would give you wisdom and understanding in studying this chapter so that the fruit that is born from it might be applied to your life in a way that is able to bring about change in yourself and others. God bless!

devotion courtesy of Trailblazin Ministries