No matter what culture we are brought up in, there is always an element of trying to be the best, to do our best and to strive for better living conditions. We are never to become complacent and satisfied but instead we must set higher goals and achieve them. This is not a bad idea except when we do it, we try to get ahead of others in trying to reach our goals. Trying to do our best is quite different from trying to overtake others in getting the prize. The spirit of excellence and perfection is at the cost of competition and strife.
James points out such spirit of competition and its resulting harms to the human and even to the believing communities. A clear indication of such spirit is the arguments we have with others. Fighting, striving, trying to prove that you are right, that you are better, that your opinions should be valued, are all from the flesh that is self-based. When we are not grace or gift-based, we have to compete for the last piece of the pie of limitation. But when we rely truly on the gifts of God from above, the supply is limitless. The spirit of competition reveals our self-centeredness and the lack of trust in God. People with such spirit have the wrong motive, to satisfy their own desires, so even if they pray, their prayers are not answered. However, most competitive person do not pray, they just go for it.
Self-based Christians are proud people, God has made it a point to oppose them but given grace to those who are gift-based. In the end, those who rely on God get a lot more than those who rely on themselves. “God help those who help themselves” is not a true rendering of the true situation. Are you self-based or gift-based? Here is how you may change from self-based to God-based.
Stop striving, stop competing, just do your best in the presence of God and expect grace from above. Remember, being humble is a spiritual warfare for the devil is trying to get his DNA into you to become proud. Submit to God and resist the devil is the advice from James. When you resist the self and the world and the devil, you overcome sin in your life. Doing the will of God is to resist the devil and draw near to God. When you draw near to God, He will draw near to you. His presence will be in your life.
Do you desire such life without competition? The key is the confession of sins. James speaks to the sinners that they should cleanse their hands and stop doing evil things. They need to cleanse their hearts for they are double-minded, wanting to please God and please themselves at the same time. Cleansing of the heart is to have a single-minded devotion towards God. Rest in the Lord now, stop any kind of competition, striving, quarreling or fighting. God’s grace far exceeds all your needs.
Ps 126:1-3 Ezek 40:28-41:26 Jas 4:1-17 Prov 28:3-5