ODJ: gift of submission

September 19, 2014 

READ: James 4:6-10 

Submit yourselves, then, to God (v.7 NIV).

I once wrote a book based on a collection of letters that François Fénelon (a French pastor from the 17th century) wrote to a younger friend who was serving in the morally corrupt court of King Louis XIV. Fénelon’s fatherly posture and his call for unflinching devotion to God captured me. Words like this are standard Fénelon fare: “Becoming a follower of God is hard because it requires that we submit ourselves fully to a God who is other than us. We must let go of our insistence that we know best what we need. We must let go of our demands that God act when and how we demand.”
James tells us the same. “Submit to God”, he wrote. The New Living Translation captures the right tone: “Humble yourselves before God” (4:7). Humility is a crucial part of submission because our pride (our insistence that we know best and do not need God) keeps us from laying down our demands and our will. Yet we must put down our arrogant hearts. We must empty our hands of all the things we grasp after. For if we’re full of ourselves and our accomplishments, we’ll have no room or desire for what God wants to give us.

That’s why James reminds us that “God opposes the proud, but favours the humble” (v.6). The proud are those of us who think the world is what we make of it. The proud are those of us who will not be friends of God, who will not see the world as it truly is—as God’s world. The proud are those of us who will not submit, who will not empty ourselves so we can receive love.

But praise God, grace flows freely to the humble. If we lay our life down at God’s feet, we’ll find that in giving up (submitting) we’re able to truly live.

—Winn Collier

365-day plan› John 17:1-26

Read 1 Peter 5:5. Peter repeats the proverb that James quotes (Proverbs 3:34). What’s the connection between submitting to God and submitting to others? 
What are you holding on to that you need to release in submission to God? What holds you back from trusting that God will not disappoint you if you surrender to Him?