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Loosening Your Grip
James 4:1-17 

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When your back is up against the wall and you feel like you are in an impossible situation, how do you usually respond? My natural tendency is to try to get in control of the situation, using either my back or my brain. I do whatever it takes to resolve the problem and return life to normalcy as soon as humanly possible. In other words, my first response to a crisis is to tighten my grip and take control-to increase my efforts.

Last week, we contrasted human wisdom with godly wisdom, in this week's text there is a similar contrast. This time, it is between human effort and godly effort. In James 4:1-17, James illustrates the futility of human efforts by commenting on three strategies people use when under distress and one they use during times of prosperity. 

In verses 1-2 he shows the futility of fights and quarrels. James writes: "What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? [2] You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. And you are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel."

Fights and quarrels are deeply rooted in our human nature. Every now and then, I stick my head into the preschool room and watch our little one's play during Sunday School. One minute, two children will be sitting next to one another, content with their toys. The next, one of them will be trying to take the other one's toy away and if she doesn't get her way, she is fully prepared to escalate the tug of war into a full scale war.

One way we try to solve problems is to fight against one another, and isn't restricted to the nursery. Something Al Grounds learned the hard way.

Al was happy to preach a week-long Revival at Calvary Baptist Church of Fair Oaks. And when the people responded, he gladly stretched the meeting to two, then three weeks. When Calvary's Pastor resigned, Calvary's deacons approached Al to become their next pastor. After all, everybody responded positively to him during the revival, they thought he'd make a great pastor.

At first Al resisted, but the deacons persisted until he finally said "yes." And when he came, the church grew like a wildfire. People packed the building from as far away as 75 miles-unbelievable for a small country church. Everybody was happy, right?

Not exactly. Some of the locals didn't like the growth and started holding back their tithe and launched a whispering campaign against their pastor. Finally it came to a head when one of the ringleaders of the resistance stood up in business meeting and said, "This church is full of people who don't belong here. They don't live here, they don't know us, they don't belong. Now it's time for them to go." She continued, "I make a motion that Al Grounds be removed from the position of pastor and that all names of those living outside the city limits of Fair Oaks be removed from the church rolls." (Leadership Journal, Fall 2001, p. 88-89.)

It happens in the nursery, and it happens with grown ups too-people who ought not be fighting, go to quarreling. That's what happens when we depend on human effort to solve our problems.

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