Come near to God, and he will come near to you.
Wash your hands, you sinners,
and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
I feel like there’s nothing new to say about this verse, yet, at the same time, everything I’ve heard needs repeated. God is a gentleman. He will not push in where He’s not invited. So, when we feel as if God has moved away, it’s because we’ve pushed Him out–generally, to make way for some unimportant activity or human.
Perhaps we need to read this verse in context.
4 You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. 5 Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us? 6 But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:
“God opposes the proud
but shows favor to the humble.”
7 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. 9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
Have we forgotten that God is a jealous God? How would you feel if your spouse spent more of his time-off with a co-worker than with you? What if your best friend found a hobby that excluded you to the point she stopped calling and every text reply was a one-word answer? Jesus calls Himself the bride of Christ, and He said, “I no longer call you servants, I call you friends.” How do we treat our groom, our friend who gave His life so we could live?
When we won’t give up ten minutes during breakfast or lunch to read His love letter or become too busy to attend worship, we break His heart. Consider the last friend you had who made you a second, then third, then fourth priority. Once you were very close, but they found other interests, and now you only get a call on special occasions. Humans have acquaintances, we can have two best friends. A relationship with God is different. Friendship with the world makes us His enemy.
When we give up worshiping with the body or neglect our small study group, we grieve His Spirit. Like a loving spouse aware her husband has another, God’s heart breaks when we leave our Bibles unopened or save prayer for when we’re drowning.
James reminds us that our heavenly Father won’t abandon us for our indiscretions. When we humble our hearts and understand the depths of our separation, He pours out grace. Yes, He always has more grace. But I don’t want to be the one to take advantage of His kindness and abuse His grace. Come near to God. He will come near to you. He loves you so much He gets jealous for you. But He wants to lift us up.
Before you go, click over to my devotion collection.
Perhaps one of these books will help you stay close to the One who loves you.