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In Paul’s letter to the Philippians, you will find the names of two ladies who could not get along with each other, Euodia and Syntyche (or, as it has been rendered, Odius and Soontouchy).
They obviously had trouble working together. Then and now, the church is too often described in this little jingle:
To dwell above with saints we love,
O that will be sure glory.
But to dwell below with saints we know,
Well, that’s another story!1
Either you have been in one, or you have heard of one, or you have seen one. To what am I speaking – a church in disorder. It’s a sad and heartbreaking thing to see a church filled with strife and contention. After reading this section of James’ letter, it is rather obvious that the church to which he was writing was in such a predicament. Chapter four begins with James challenging the church body concerning their sinful brutish behavior. He saw just what ungodly, demonic wisdom will do to a congregation. The members end up fighting and quarreling amongst themselves and pursuing their worldly pleasures.
It really hurt James to see the church in such disarray. He becomes very firm with his listeners and as a committed believer himself, understands that unchallenged evil will not go away on its own. James wants the members in the church body to resist not only the practices of ungodly wisdom, but also the source from which such wisdom originates. He cannot believe at how his listeners were acting. They are Christians, at least they’re supposed to be Christians, but they were acting more like people of the world than people of God.
“People who live without God face five dangers. It stifles their prayer life. It makes them a friend of the world and an enemy of God. They neglect God’s will in their lives. It produces insult and slander of fellow believers. It produces people who plan their lives without seeking God.”Here are some suggestions that will keep you from bringing disorder in the church body: (1) Don’t ask with wrong motives because God will not answer your prayers. (2) Seek grace from God to love Him with your whole heart. (3) Resist the devil, and god will enable you to overcome his temptations. (4) Don’t slander other believers, because when you do, you set yourself above God’s laws. (5) Be concerned not only about what you do but also about what you fail to do.
1 Michael P. Green, Editor, 1,500 Illustrations for Biblical Preaching” (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2000), 65.
Keith Stewart is pastor of Morriston Baptist Church.