Obedience to God begins the fulfilling of God’s will in our lives. When James writes about submitting to God, he is simply saying: Obey God.
Some of us wrestle with the concept of submitting ourselves because we don’t like to be told what to do. However, if we think about it, we submit ourselves every day. We submit when we obey the speed limit or when we slow down to the speed limit to avoid a speeding ticket at the sight of a police car. We submit every year when we fill out tax returns or when we follow what society tells us about what it means to be a good citizen. We submit when we follow the rules and regulations at the airport so we can get on our flight.
James writes about submitting to God to advise us on how to be in good relationship with God. When we draw closer to God, we experience peace, joy, comfort, love, and hope. However, without a close relationship to God, everything we face can trigger fear, anxiety, stress, anger, depression.
God requires submission not to exercise power over us. Instead, God is like a parent who knows what is best for us and wants us to obey so we don’t get hurt.
Resisting evil results in opposing our own pride and arrogance that tell us we don’t need God because we have everything figured out. We hold the choice in our hands: Resist God and follow our own ways, or resist our self-confidence and vanity and draw near to God. May we choose wisely.
God, help us choose obedience to you so we can follow your ways and draw near to you. Amen.
Proverbs describes the noble wife and sets a standard that can seem impossible. This woman is capable and respected but also generous and wise. She serves but is not weak. Is she a “superwoman,” and do all women need to be “superwomen”? No, she is noble because she follows the counsel of the psalmist and is deeply rooted in the teachings of God. Therefore, she sets a standard for everyone to emulate, not just women. James, another teacher of wisdom, encourages believers to show these same characteristics by following the wisdom given by God. In Mark the disciples display a lack of wisdom by arguing over who is the greatest. Jesus reminds them that greatness in God’s eyes comes through service, not through seeking recognition.
• Read Proverbs 31:10-31. How have societal expectations shaped your life? How do you allow them to shape the ways you interact with others?
• Read Psalm 1. When have you had to choose between wickedness and righteousness? What influenced your choice?
• Read James 3:13–4:3, 7-8a. You can choose the way you react to conflict. How can facing your internal struggles help you deal with external conflict?
• Read Mark 9:30-37. With what are you too preoccupied? How do your personal worries constrain your perspective?
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