Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. (James 4:4)

Having REPROACHED his readers for their interpersonal quarreling and their misplaced motives, James pressed into another reason for their discord. They have allowed the world to unduly influence their perspective.

Think of friendship not as casual acquaintances but as those deep, long-term relationships in which we’ve clashed and reconnected, celebrated and consoled: the friendship of a best man or maid of honor at your wedding, the first person you call with good or bad news. Such people exercise a strong influence in our lives. We listen to their advice and trust their opinions.

James’ readers had that kind of friendship with the world; that is, with the sinful lifestyles and values of those who do not follow Christ. They sought and heeded the advice of people outside the faith, rejecting the quiet influence of the Holy Spirit (James 4:5) within them, such that God the Spirit “envie[d] intensely.”

Jesus sends us into this world even though we are not of it (John 17:13–18). People called Him “a friend of tax collectors and ‘sinners’” (Luke 7:34). In our passage, James does not suggest that we separate ourselves from all the non-Christians around us. His admonition applies to our close companionship; that’s why he used such an intimate word as adulterous. He calls us to guard the influences in our life and prioritize the leadership of the Holy Spirit.

Confess to God one area in which the world influences your life.

Carole Sparks is passionate about God’s Word and how it impacts our everyday lives! After years of globetrotting, she now lives and writes in East Tennessee.

© 2018 Wesleyan Publishing House. Reprinted from Light from the Word. Used by permission.