Submit yourselves therefore to God. (James 4:7a)
Pastor John’s Notes:
In order for us to fulfill God’s purposes, our will must be brought into submission to the will of God. The trouble is that God will not force us into submission. God has created us in his own image, and the will of God is free. So who must do the work to bring our will into submission? James tells us that is we ourselves who must do this work. We must submit ourselves to God. We must become willing servants.
The subjugation of our will is no easy matter. The will desires to be free from all constraint and to pursue whatever it is inclined to pursue. This is why societies have laws along with police forces and judicial systems. If human beings were allowed to freely pursue every inclination of their hearts, civilized society would immediately collapse into chaos and anarchy. This in itself is evidence enough that humanity is a fallen race. Were we to remove all external constraints of our will, we would certainly destroy ourselves.
God invites us into a new society, the kingdom of God. But this kingdom is unlike all other kingdoms of the earth. Jesus Christ has set us free so that we can choose to be in willing submission. In order for us to do this, we will have to wrestle with our will, and sometimes wrestle hard. This wrestling of the will is necessary because God has designed his kingdom to be populated with free citizens, people who will joyfully follow him without compulsion. God deeply values this kind of loyalty. By allowing us the freedom to submit ourselves, God then has a household of willing servants whom he can trust with anything.
Heavenly Father, thank you for the kingdom of God. I desire to be one of its free citizens. But I confess that I struggle with my will, which resists any constraint. Strengthen me as I work to bring my will into submission to your good purposes. Help me as I submit myself to you. And give me the gift of joy as my reward.