James 4: 1-10
4 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
4 You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. 5 Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us? 6 But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:
“God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”
7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
America First or God First?
There is a huge movement in America today that believes our country has lost it way and that the answer to restoring America requires civic pride that puts America first. Various politicians and clergy have further popularized this notion by advocating for political policies that puts America’s needs ahead of other countries, even if it means political isolation. At face value, this may sound reasonable. What citizen would desire the failure or demise of their home nation? What is wrong with wanting your country to be best country in world? However, as Christians, we should be wary of ideologies and policies that overly encourage civic pride. The Bible is clear that pride in anything or anyone other than God is dangerous to have.
We must remember that pride is more than a person thinking they are great or the best. Pride also involves being self-absorbed and constantly thinking only about one’s self–one’s wants and needs. Such thinking can easily drive us out of the will of God. James 4:1tells us that pride can make us insecure, quarrelsome, and selfish. In fact, James asserts in verses 4-7 that pride will put us to closer to the world than to God.
Perhaps you are wondering if there is anything that we should take pride in. I would encourage us to consider another focus. According to James 4:10, our goal should be humbling ourselves before the Lord. Our goal should never be pride but humility. Philippians 2:1-4 states it clearly:
Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love,
if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete
by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish
ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own
interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
In short, no matter what our race, creed, sex, or nationality may be, we who call ourselves Christians should never look to put ourselves first. Nor should we affirm or partner with any ideologies that recommend putting oneself first.
I know that what I have said is not easy to accept . I understand that truly putting others first makes us vulnerable as individuals and as a nation. However, following Christ is about humility and meekness, not pride and power. It took meekness for Jesus to humble himself and die on a cross for us. As we move close to Holy Week and Easter, let us all strive to be more humble by sincerely putting the needs of others above ourselves.