Near and Far

James 4:4-10
Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.

What does it take to draw near to God? First of all, it takes separation from the world and a focus on that committed relationship we are to have with God. We have a friendship with Him and not with those things that He hates or opposes or that stand opposed to Him. Many things can affect that relationship—our choices, our attitudes, our actions—and either draw us closer or push us farther from Him.

Drawing near starts with a humble heart. God resists the proud. He is repelled by our prideful attitudes, but humility invites His grace into our lives. Humility leads to submission. We have to surrender to Him as God, sovereign Lord and authority over us. That places us in the proper position in our relationship with Him. But then it takes movement on our part, a willingness to seek Him and effort to draw near. We have to spend time with Him and seek Him where He is—in His Word and in prayer.

Drawing near to God also takes active opposition and resistance to the evil one and his evil ways. Sin always interferes in our relationship with God. So drawing near requires cleansing from sin. Confession and repentance are the key to that. We don’t let sin fester, and we don’t try to deal with it ourselves. But we take that, too, near to God and let Him help us with it, since He is the only one who can offer us forgiveness and redemption.

Maybe it would be good to take stock of our relationship with God and how it’s going. We can look at these areas and see if there is something that is keeping us far from God instead of drawing us near to Him. Do we need to humble ourselves, confess some sin, or simply make a choice to spend more time with Him? The truth is, there is always something we can do to improve our relationships, and our relationship with God is no exception. Are we willing to draw nigh, then, or are we content to be at a distance from Him?