The verse for today comes from James 4:8-10, ” Come close to God, and He will come close to you. Clean up your lives, you sinners, and clear your minds, you doubters. Be miserable, mourn, and cry. Turn your laughter into mourning and your joy into gloom. Humble yourselves in the Lord’s presence, and He will lift you up. “
Background & Application
I’m always fascinated when James has something to say regarding some of Jesus’ teachings. Being the brother of Jesus, he got to live with Him every day while they were growing up, witnessing things that no one else could attest to. Yet he rejected Him originally once He began His ministry, only to believe in Him eventually and become a leader in the Jerusalem church.
So when Jesus says the oddest of sayings, that happy are the ones who are sad, perhaps James understands firsthand what Jesus is telling us. Jesus had just taught that the poor in spirit, those that James says are wanting to come close to God, will have the kingdom of heaven as God comes close to them. So then He tells us to mourn, and James takes that ball and runs with it. He says to clean up your lives and get committed in your minds. Recognize the sinner that you are, mocking God with your doubts and your questions. James probably did a fair amount of this with his buddies as his brother began to preach and to teach that He was the Savior of the world. Imagine the mental battles he must have faced, trying to keep God in the carpenter’s shop while He began to say His kingdom was in heaven. We don’t like to realize the vast expanse that separates God from us, the wasteland that is our deeds and thoughts and words. The darkness that our minds are capable of. Mourning is miserable. But only if you don’t have a Savior to humble yourself before. Those humble cries to Jesus can only be met with the comfort and presence of Him.
Jesus says we will be comforted, and James explains that God will lift us up, that He calls us along side Himself. The darkness and the wasteland are behind us. God has replaced them with Himself.
As we seek Him today, let’s mourn over the sinners that we are. Let us hold God up so high that our hearts hurt for how we can treat Him sometimes. Be humble before Him, and let Him lift us up into His presence.