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Let’s Get Ready to RUMBLE, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
January 30, 2024 9:00 am

Let’s Get Ready to RUMBLE, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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January 30, 2024 9:00 am

In this teaching from James 4, Pastor J.D. answers the question James poses to us all: Why do we fight? At the deepest levels, where do our quarrels and jealousies come from? For most of us, we might think we know the answer. We fight because THEY started it! But James has a much different answer.

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Today on Summit Life with J.D.

Greer. If I humble myself by confessing my sin, God will exalt, God will vindicate me. I don't need to worry about vindicating myself or you exalting me by acknowledging my rightness in this disagreement we're having. God's going to handle that. So I can just admit where I'm wrong and trust God and move forward. Welcome back to Summit Life with pastor, author, and apologist J.D. Greer.

I'm your host, Molly Vitovich. Today, our study through the book of James rolls on and Pastor J.D. shows us that when we face conflict, the problem ultimately isn't our circumstances or our boss or friends or our spouse or our kids. The problem is much closer to home. In fact, really close to home.

It's us. But thankfully in the end, that's actually good news because if the problem lies within us, then the solution, God's confronting and healing grace, is available to us too. Now a quick reminder that if you miss any of Pastor J.D.

's teaching, you can always listen online at But right now let's pick up where we left off yesterday in James chapter four. Here's Pastor J.D. When we ask God for something and our happiness and our contentment and our emotional equilibrium are dependent on him giving us the answer that we are demanding, that is we could not imagine being happy without that thing we're asking for, we pray like an adulterer.

Do you see that? Because we are seeking a happiness, a contentment, and a security in some thing that we ought to be finding in God. God, I need this raise. Because God, without this financial raise, I can't be happy or satisfied. I won't be secure.

I won't have a great future. There's nothing wrong with the request for a raise. The problem is that you've made your happiness and contentment dependent on getting it. Oh God, please fix my spouse. Please fix him. Please fix her. Make them more attentive to my needs. Nothing wrong with the request.

What's wrong is that you think you'll never live a full happy life until they're different. God, I need, I need to make this team. I need to get this award.

God, I've got to get into this school because I can't feel good about myself unless I do. God, I need a boyfriend or I need a girlfriend or God, I need to get married because without marriage I won't feel complete in life. And God says, you adulterer, you're asking me to supply in somebody else what you ought to be finding in me. You should be able to be happy and content and complete with me. It's not that you shouldn't have those other desires.

They're fine. It's that you should still be able to be content with me and not covet those things. Your anger, your rage at others, really first at God, James says, ultimately goes down to idolatry. Your conflict and your rage are like smoke from a fire that you can trace back to the altars that you have erected in worship of a false idol. Your intimate conflicts ultimately come from idolatrous cravings. So what's the solution? Y'all, what's the solution? Before I tell you what James says the solution is, could I just point out one of the things that I love about James is that he does more than just tell you that you got a problem and then call you a bunch of nasty names and then tell you to go fix yourself. No, he diagnoses the problem, showing you the problem behind the problem, and then shows you how to fix that problem at the source, which is so much more helpful than a lot of the other diagnostic instruments in my life, right? Like the little check engine light in my car.

Could I just rage about that for a minute? My second daughter just left for college, she's a freshman now at NC State, so I inherited her car back. And when I got into it to drive it for the first time in a long time, I immediately noticed the check engine light was on with a little illuminated wrench underneath, which prompts two questions.

Number one, how long has that thing been on? Number two, check what about the engine? Clearly it's telling me to take a wrench to something, but what? So being obedient, I dutifully pull the car over, I open the hood, I stand in front of the engine to check engine, and my first thought standing there is, man, there's a lot of stuff in here.

But here was the most frustrating part, there's no tiny flags waving with a little arrow pointing to something saying, twist wrench here, twist wrench here. Within moments, I had determined beyond any reasonable doubt that the level of the windshield wiper fluid was fine, okay? I even glanced around the engine for dead animals, checked fans for dead little rats, if you remember from last week, even sniffed a little, right, just to see, right? And then, well, that's all I knew how to do. It said, check engine, I checked engine, and then confident that I'd done whatever it was telling me to do, I got back into my car and went on my way, right? Ultimately, I'm taking somebody else to get them to check the engine. Change is much more helpful than that kind of indicator light. In verses six through 10, it gives you a new thing, it gives you a number of instructions about how to deal with your idolatrous heart. Number of instructions, but I think I can summarize them in two basic categories, okay?

Here's category number one. Humble yourselves, verse 10. Humble yourselves, verse 10. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you in context. These verses like these are often lifted out of context. In context, humble yourselves means two things.

There'll be an A and a B. A, humble yourselves by acknowledging that there may be good reasons God is withholding from you something that you desire. That's the first place you humble yourself. Psalm 84-11 promises us that no good thing will he withhold from those who walk uprightly before him, which means if it is truly good for me, God will not withhold it, he will supply it. No good thing will he withhold, and if he does withhold it, that can only mean it must not ultimately be good for me at this particular time.

You are mad because you thought you needed this, and that person is not giving it to you. But humble yourselves that you may not know what is best for your life, and a sovereign God is guiding your life who promises that no good thing will he withhold from those who walk uprightly. I thought I needed the marriage.

I thought I needed the win, the raise, the acceptance, the contract, the healed body, but you didn't give it to me, God, so you must have a better plan. This week I was listening to an old talk by Elizabeth Elliot. She was the missionary whose husband, along with four other young missionaries, was speared to death along the beaches of Ecuador in the 1950s. In this talk, she said that the hardest thing to do is to trust God when his plan goes 180 degrees opposite the way that you thought it should go.

Have you been there? She and Jim, her husband, had trusted God with their relationship when they were dating. When they graduated from Wheaton College, they were in love, but they waited five years to get married because they both felt led to serve God on the mission field in two different places. She in Africa and he in South America, and they sensed this so strongly, they knew it meant they had to wait on getting married if they would ever get married at all.

So they waited five years. Eventually, God led them back together, and they got married. They were married for two years, less than two years, when Jim was speared to death, taking the gospel to this remote tribe there in Ecuador. She said the night before, Jim and the other four men left to make this initial contact with this very hostile tribe, they had all knelt down. They had prayed, and she said, we ended our prayer time by singing a hymn that had the words, we rest on thee, our shield and our defender. And then the next day, Jim left in obedience, and God, his shield and defender, let him be speared to death. Elizabeth Elliott asked this group of college students in this talk that I was listening to, she said, will you trust God when he leads you there?

Will you trust your shield and defender when he lets the spears penetrate your chest? Then she said, because God is God, he is worthy of my trust and obedience. Therefore, I will find rest nowhere but in his holy will that is unspeakably beyond my largest notions of what he is up to. Humility. God's got a different plan than me, and when his plan goes 180 degrees opposite of what I want or where I think it should go, I'll trust him.

I'll trust him. And when it doesn't make sense, I'm still gonna trust that Psalm 84 11 is true, that no good thing is he withholding, and if he's withholding it, it must not ultimately be good for me. Humble yourselves by admitting there may be good reasons God is withholding from you something you desire.

Verse seven, submit yourselves therefore to God and trust him. That's the first way you humble yourselves. The second way you humble yourselves, letter B, humble yourselves by admitting your idolatrous desires are a major contributor to this conflict. You gotta humble yourself by admitting that idolatrous desire is a major contributor to this conflict. The other person may be at fault, but the reason that you're so angry, the reason you rage and see and struggle with bitterness is because your idolatrous heart has latched onto something other than God that you think is necessary for happiness and for contentment. Admit that to yourself, and then confess it to God. That's what James is getting at in verse eight. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double mind to be wretched and mourn and weep.

Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. I mean, y'all, clearly James is an Enneagram eight. Can we all at least agree on that? I get in trouble sometimes for saying overly direct things, but y'all, I'm a kitten compared to James.

Let's just acknowledge that. Before you confront the other person about anything, look in the mirror and say, it's me. Hi, I'm the problem, it's me.

At tea time, everybody agrees, okay? Humble yourself. Like, a third of you are like, I understand what he's saying there.

Two thirds of you are like, what is he talking about, okay? Then, if appropriate, ask your teenager. If appropriate, confess your idolatry to the other person also. Acknowledge to them that your anger, at least in part, arises from your own messed up heart, and that will be hard. Oh, because you want to excuse yourself and blame all your anger on them. And here's what you think. If you confess your part in the conflict, you feel like you're going to be letting them off the hook, and then they're going to use your confession against you.

But that's not true. I know a marriage counselor who says that during marriage counseling, he will often draw a circle on a piece of paper. He said, this circle right here represents all your marriage problems, all your conflicts. Then he hands both of them a pencil, two different circles, says, I want you to take this pencil and draw a slice in that circle that represents your part of the conflict.

Maybe you got just a little bit, maybe it's just one percent. He says, in all my years of marriage counseling, there's never been a time when the husband or wife wouldn't draw even a teensy little slice in the circle. He would say, well, if you take a slice, you got to be nice, because you're part of the problem.

He said that whenever they would do that, whenever the husband and wife would do that, he said the temperature in the room would most always change. When both sides take some ownership, we're usually ready to begin moving forward, but we are hesitant to do that. We are hesitant to admit our part in the conflict, because when you admit you're part of the problem, you feel like you're losing your leverage.

If I admit that I'm at fault in any way, I'm going to lose my lofty platform from which I can rail against you about your issues. Well, first, y'all, you just got to trust God with that. God tells you to deal with your junk first and to trust him with your spouse or whomever else you're in conflict with. Don't worry about being vindicated.

Don't worry about losing your leverage. See how it says, verse 10, humble yourself and who will exalt you? God will exalt you. If I humble myself by confessing my sin, God will exalt. God will vindicate me. I don't need to worry about vindicating myself or you exalting me by acknowledging my rightness in this, you know, this disagreement we're having. God's going to handle that. So I can just admit where I'm wrong and trust God and move forward. This is Summit Life with Pastor J.D.

Greer. We'll be right back with the rest of today's teaching in just a moment, but I wanted to share a little bit more about our featured resource this month. One of the foundational things that we can do to carry our faith throughout our days is knowing and acting on the word of God. I mean, what better way to show who we follow and who we love? So this month we created a pack of 52 scripture memory cards to help you in carrying God's word with you daily. These are perfect to aid you in recalling many key passages in God's word, bringing truth and promises to your mind in your time of greatest in your time of greatest need. Also, there's nothing more encouraging than God's word, so why not have it on the tip of your tongue when a friend or family member is hurting? The cards are made as a small two and a half by three and a half inch size for quick reference, putting on the fridge, or even sticking in your wallet.

The cards come with your generous gift of $35 or more to this ministry, so give us a call at 866-335-5220, or you can always give online at Now let's get back to today's teaching. Once again, here's Pastor JD. Most importantly, y'all, I've seen this approach of humbling yourself resolve more conflicts than any other. When one partner in a conflict admits their part rather than reducing leverage, that humility usually opens up the other person to begin to admit theirs.

Now I do want to give one very important caveat here. There are certain kinds of people who are very skilled manipulators, who can, through things like gaslighting and victim shaming, they can cover up their abusive and manipulative behavior by always making you feel like their abuse, their sin, is your fault. I am not talking about that.

If you're in that kind of relationship or you think you might be in that kind of relationship, you need to go see a Christian counselor immediately. I'm talking about this in the context of the normal rumble tumble of conflict. Y'all, imagine if the next time you're fighting with somebody, right in the middle of it, you went, you know what the real problem here is?

The real reason I'm upset is because I crave something really, really badly and I'm not getting it. What do you think would happen? By the way, y'all, I got a giggle thinking about how James must have processed all this and came up with this wisdom. Maybe this will make you more sympathetic with how blunt James is.

I've never read this in a commentary, but I think it just makes sense. Think about this. James was Jesus' half-brother. Remember that? He probably grew up sharing a room with Jesus.

Can you imagine? In any conflict, you were wrong. Every single time they're screaming, coming from the back bedroom, Joseph walks in, ignores Jesus and goes right at James because there's no way it could be Jesus' fault, right?

So James is like, listen, I learned whenever I had conflict with my big brother, it was always me. But I learned a lot through that. Maybe you should do the same. So here's my question.

Are you willing to try that? Anytime you're mad to say, I'm going to ask what these angry emotions indicate about what I'm yearning for, what I'm coveting over, where I'm an idolater, here's how it went down for me not long ago. I get home from a business trip.

I'm tired. I'm trying to be a good dad, focus on the kids. My wife, of course, has been single parenting for a couple of days, and she slips in something about a commitment that I had made for both of us the next night that I had not told her about. There was nothing outrageous about what she said. She was just surprised by something she thinks that I've sprung on her. My response was swift and decisive.

I did tell you about that. She says, no, you didn't. At this point, still calmly, but now a bit more firmly, I insisted that I had indeed told her, as I do every time with every commitment. At this point, there's a little chill in the air, right?

And we dropped it. Then later, after the kids had gone to bed, she brought it back up and said, I just feel like lately you've not been telling me your plans or checking with me to consider what's best for the family. Now, I sincerely wish I could tell you that I was humble, and I had communicated eagerness to understand things from her point of view and learn from her observations.

Alas, that is not what I did. I don't like being called thoughtless, and I definitely don't like being called irresponsible, especially when I feel like I busted my tail to get home from this trip early to spend time with the kids. I deserve to be commended, not criticized. So instead, I turned into Lawyer JD, proving that my client, which is myself, was guilty of no charges and should be swiftly acquitted.

My wife is, of course, frustrated because, for whatever reason, she feels like she's being left out and is not being communicated to, but my pride is hurt, and I really want to be honored as a thoughtful husband. So pretty soon, I'd moved beyond litigation, and since she was not honoring myself, I started to honor myself. I actually said something like, I just don't see how we wouldn't default to me in this situation. After all, I'm a professional communicator, right?

And somehow, look, I didn't say this was exemplary. I'm just telling you, okay, somehow that led to me pointing out that I'd never be able to effectively run a staff of 300 people if I don't know how to communicate, and thus the size of our church proves that I'm right, and she's wrong, and somehow that led to my college GPA, which I'm still not quite certain how we got there. And then I shifted into historian mode and took us on a brief journey through our marriage, highlighting a number of cogent illustrations that prove that I am the most communicative husband of all time, okay? At which point she said, you're right, babe. You're right, babe. I just had not considered the bigger picture. Thank you for patiently correcting me.

No, no, no, no. This ended with me in the other room on my iPad watching a show wishing that my hard work as a husband were more acknowledged. Wouldn't it be so much better to not depend on Veronica or anybody else for vindication, and just acknowledge how frustrating it is for her to not to be aware of something, to give her the benefit of the doubt, to listen to her frustrations, and promise to do my best to keep her in the loop? It is because I crave vindication that this conflict ended with me seething in the other room rather than being a simple discussion between loving partners about how to better communicate. My pride and my idolatry made this conflict 10 times worse than it ever needed to be. One Christian counselor said this, no matter the duration, no matter the intensity, the severity, or subject matter, the solution is always found in James 4-10.

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up. And always remember this, verse seven, God opposes the proud, but He gives grace to the humble. If you want God on your side in a conflict, humble yourself before Him and before others. If you want Him as your enemy, exalt and vindicate yourself.

He opposes the proud, but He gives grace to, He exalts the humble. And you also, when my wife and I have conflicts now, I always want to be the first one to apologize so then I can be like, God's on my side now. You better get yourself together.

Okay? Number two. Number two, draw near to God. Draw near to God. Verse eight says, draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Y'all know as harsh as James is, you should recognize that behind these words, He's pointing you to the tender, compassionate love of God, drawing you back.

After James unloads on you, calling you adultery and wretched, double-minded, unstable sinners who should be mourning and not laughing. He just says, but He gives more grace. More grace than what? More grace than your sin. No matter how bad your sin is, He gives more grace. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you, evokes the image of the father and the prodigal son's story.

Just waiting. Just take a step toward me. Just take a step toward me and I will run faster than you've ever seen a grown man run. Longing for his child to come home. The moment he sees you coming back, lifts up the corners of his robe and runs towards you, you have run off to the far country of anger and it has wrecked your life. You're in the far country of bitterness.

You got bitterness issues going back two and three decades in your marriage and your family with something that happened. God wants to restore you to His house of peace and joy and contentment. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. That evokes images of a God who so loved the world that He came to die on a cross for your sin, who would who would literally go through hell itself to bring you back. He didn't want heaven without us. So He brought heaven near, even though it meant enduring hell in our place so that He could bring us to heaven and bring heaven to us. This is the God who yearns for us to come back to Him. In fact, He even uses conflicts in our lives to do that.

This might be a radical thought, but what if through that conflict God was saying to you, hey, hey, the security you're looking for, the significance you crave, the assurance that you yearn for, that everything is going to work out for good, that thing that you want so badly, that's not in that person. Your boss doesn't hold that key. Your friends don't hold that key.

Your girlfriend doesn't hold that key. That's in me. I'm the comfort you're looking for.

I'm the security you're looking for. I'm the significance. I'm the God who can sustain you and satisfy you.

I loved you when you were running away from me. I sacrificed my life to make you my child, and now I promise to sovereignly control all things for your good and my plan in your life. That's what He's doing in you during conflict. So what if this week, whenever you feel anger or rage or bitterness or self-pity, you humble yourself and you ask yourself, where does this point to idolatry in my heart? Humility. It's the key to peace with one another. Encouraging words today from Pastor J.D. Greer here on Summit Life.

If you missed any of today's teaching or would like to catch up on previous messages, you can find them free of charge online at Would you agree that we need a weapon to keep us from falling prey to the enemy? So what is that most valuable weapon? Well, of course, it is the Word of God, and that's why we have to keep putting it into our hearts so that when life cuts us, we bleed the scriptures. This month, we've put together a pack of 52 memory verse cards for you to use as a daily weapon. If you want to carry God's promises in your heart, these cards can make it easier to memorize scripture. We'll send you the scripture memory card set as an expression of thanks when you donate today to support Summit Life. We're always thankful for our partners in this ministry, those who give one time as well as those who commit to a regular monthly gift. So thank you in advance for your support of this mission.

Ask for your set of memory verse cards when you give today by calling 866-335-5220, or you can give online at I'm Molly Vitovich. Thank you for joining us. Be sure to listen again tomorrow when we're talking about a question we all ponder.

What is my purpose? That's Wednesday on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-21 01:34:34 / 2024-02-21 01:44:57 / 10

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