Social media has been a presence, in our lives, for about 12 years now. It wasn’t too long ago we had to go to physical places to have physical conversations with physical people. Does anyone remember when we had to wait for someone? Say goodbye on the telephone? Not know how it might go for a friend until we see them in a week?
I find myself and others always fighting for the upper hand in conversations and relationships. We don’t have to wait a week, say goodbye on the phone, go to physical spaces to have physical conversations with physical people. Now, we just get physical online.
James asks a very relevant question – What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight (James 4:1-2).
When we fight for the upper hand in conversations, relationships, and online James asks what is going on inside of us? He uses the words “fights” and “quarrels.” These words were actually used to describe two countries fighting during a war. These countries hated each other. James proposes this is the way we feel when we lose the upper-hand. When we are not heard or understood. We have this sense that what we have been holding onto is losing its grip and we no longer have the upper hand.
James continues to write:
“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 (James 4:7-8).”
James describes this evil being as the Devil. The “devil” simply means to throw something through with the intent of dividing something. Does this sound like some social media interaction you’ve seen recently? What has been divided or split in your relationships?
Maybe the very act of wanting to have the upper hand and to win every argument is just arsenal the “devil” uses to divide us. It’s difficult to represent Christ and be a jerk at the same time when we are online. This is why James says we are “double-minded.” We are tied between two things we want – the upper hand and submission to Christ.
James points us to submission was being our protection. To submit yourself to someone, an idea or philosophy is to place yourself under it. You have to law low so that person or idea can be over you protecting you. James seems to say we can’t have it both ways. If we want the upper hand, we have to stand up and make ourselves known. The moment we do this and get into an argument, we forget the comfort of our protection.
To place ourselves in submission to Christ is to have His protection. The Scriptures relentlessly tell us to be still and allow the Lord to fight our battles. That seems so . . . passive. Maybe it’s just obedience.
I love a good heated debated as the next person. May we consider what we let go of the next time we stand up and adamantly attack someone. Our protection is in our submission.