In her second Harry Potter Book—Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets—J.K. Rowling wrote,
“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”
If I were to insert this quote into the 4th chapter of the Epistle of St. James, you’d think it had always been there.
James completely agrees: it’s our choices that show us who we are.
Our choice, as Christians, is to either be a friend of the world and an enemy to God, or to submit ourselves to God and resist the devil.
The Bottom Line: Only by humbling ourselves before God can we chose the way of Life.
Those conflicts and disputes among you, where do they come from? Do they not come from your cravings that are at war within you? You want something and do not have it; so you commit murder. And you covet something and cannot obtain it; so you engage in disputes and conflicts. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, in order to spend what you get on your pleasures. Adulterers! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you suppose that it is for nothing that the scripture says, “God yearns jealously for the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”?
But he gives all the more grace; therefore it says,
“God opposes the proud,
but gives grace to the humble.”
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy into dejection. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. (NRSV)
Where do the conflicts and where do the quarrels among you come from? Is it not from this, from your passions that battle inside you? You desire and you do not have; you murder and envy and you cannot obtain; you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask; you ask and do not receive because you ask wrongly, so you can spend it on your passions.
Adulterers, do you not know that friendship with the world means hostility toward God? So whoever decides to be the world’s friend makes himself God’s enemy. Or do you think the scripture means nothing when it says, “The spirit that God caused to live within us has an envious yearning”? But he gives greater grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but he gives grace to the humble.” So submit to God. But resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and make your hearts pure, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn, and weep. Turn your laughter into mourning and your joy into despair. Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you. (NET)
Where do the conflicts and where do the battles among you come from? Is it not from there—from the pleasures waging war in your bodily members? You desire and you do not have; you murder and covet and you are unable to obtain; you fight and wage war; you do not have because you do not ask; You ask and do not receive because you ask in an evil fashion, so that you might spend on your own pleasures. You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the cosmos is enmity with God? Whoever therefore resolves to be a friend of the cosmos is rendered an enemy of God. Or do you think it in vain that the scripture says, “The spirit that has dwelt within us yearns to the point of envy”? But he gives greater grace. Hence it says, “God opposes the arrogant but gives grace to the humble.” Therefore, be subordinate to God, but oppose the Slanderer and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-souled men. Be distressed and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to dejection. Be humbled before the Lord and he will lift you up. (David Bentley Hart)
Where do wars come from? Why do people among you fight? It all comes from within, doesn’t it – from your desires for pleasure which make war in your members. You want something and you haven’t got it, so you murder someone. You long to possess something, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war. The reason you don’t have it is because you don’t ask for it! And when you do ask, you don’t get it, because you ask wrongly, intending to spend it on your pleasures. Adulterers! Don’t you know that to be friends with the world means being enemies with God? So anyone who wants to be friends with the world is setting themselves up as God’s enemy. Or do you suppose that when the Bible says, ‘He yearns jealously over the spirit he has made to dwell in us’, it doesn’t mean what it says?
But God gives more grace; so it says, ‘God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ Submit to God, then; resist the devil and he will run away from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Make your hands clean, you sinners; and make your hearts pure, you double-minded lot. Make yourselves wretched; mourn and weep. Let your laughter turn to mourning, and your joy to sorrow. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. (N.T. Wright)
Πόθεν πόλεμοι ⸂καὶ πόθεν μάχαι ἐν ὑμῖν⸃; οὐκ ἐντεῦθεν, ἐκ τῶν ἡδονῶν ὑμῶν τῶν στρατευομένων ἐν τοῖς μέλεσιν ὑμῶν; ἐπιθυμεῖτε καὶ οὐκ ἔχετε, φονεύετε καὶ ζηλοῦτε καὶ οὐ δύνασθε ἐπιτυχεῖν, μάχεσθε καὶ πολεμεῖτε, ⸂οὐκ ἔχετε⸃ διὰ τὸ μὴ αἰτεῖσθαι ὑμᾶς, αἰτεῖτε ⸆ καὶ οὐ λαμβάνετε διότι κακῶς αἰτεῖσθε, ἵνα ἐν ταῖς ἡδοναῖς ὑμῶν δαπανήσητε. ⸆μοιχαλίδες, οὐκ οἴδατε ὅτι ἡ φιλία τοῦ κόσμου ⸇ ἔχθρα ⸂τοῦ θεοῦ ἐστιν⸃; ὃς ἐὰν οὖν βουληθῇ φίλος εἶναι τοῦ κόσμου, ἐχθρὸς τοῦ θεοῦ καθίσταται. ἢ δοκεῖτε ὅτι κενῶς ἡ γραφὴ λέγει· πρὸς ⸀φθόνον ἐπιποθεῖ τὸ πνεῦμα ὃ ⸁κατῴκισεν ἐν ἡμῖν, μείζονα δὲ δίδωσιν χάριν; διὸ λέγει·
ὁ θεὸς ὑπερηφάνοις ἀντιτάσσεται,
ταπεινοῖς δὲ δίδωσιν χάριν.
ὑποτάγητε οὖν τῷ θεῷ, ἀντίστητε ⸀δὲ τῷ διαβόλῳ καὶ φεύξεται ἀφʼ ὑμῶν, ἐγγίσατε τῷ θεῷ καὶ ἐγγιεῖ ὑμῖν. καθαρίσατε χεῖρας, ἁμαρτωλοί, καὶ ἁγνίσατε καρδίας, δίψυχοι. ταλαιπωρήσατε καὶ πενθήσατε ⸂καὶ κλαύσατε⸃. ὁ γέλως ὑμῶν εἰς πένθος ⸀μετατραπήτω καὶ ἡ χαρὰ εἰς κατήφειαν. ταπεινώθητε ⸆ ἐνώπιον ⸂τοῦ κυρίου⸃ καὶ ὑψώσει ὑμᾶς.
What is The Way?
Fr. Dustin Lyon explores scripture to rediscover Christianity so that we can walk in the Way of the Lord.