“Do you have a favorite book in the Bible?” I asked Stan one morning.
“Sure do,” Stan replied. “It’s whatever one I happen to be reading at any particular time! They’re all great. Each one has important things for me as I continue on the path in my faith walk.”
“With that said,” Stan continued, “I want to mention one of my favorites of favorites, the Book of James. As I was reading in that book earlier this morning, I again came to one of my favorite verses.”
“About drawing near to God?” I asked.
“Exactly,” Stan replied. “I have talked about that a lot, how the whole notion of drawing near to God was instrumental in the beginning and continuation of my faith walk.” [Note to Reader: See, for example, Postings 29 (“Drawing Near”) and 189 (“Choosing To Be Close To God”.]
“Remind me again,” I said, “which verse is it?”
“James 4:8,” Stan said.
“That’s right; now I remember,” I replied, “about drawing near to God so He will draw near to you.”
“Exactly,” Stan said. “And with everything else in my walk with God, it’s a choice I have to make. A recurring choice. I tend to wander all over the place in my relationship with God, so I must choose every single day to be near to Him.”
“It won’t just happen on its own,” I responded. “I must choose.”
“Right again, my friend,” Stan replied. “And the rest of that verse in James sets out some requirements in making that choice.”
“What kind of requirements?” I asked.
“Cleansing my hands of sin is the first thing James mentions,” Stan replied. “Secondly, I am to purify my heart by having a single purpose of being God’s, not trying to serve Him and me at the same time. James calls it not being ‘double-minded’.”
“So,” I said, “it’s like I can’t choose to draw near to God, and have Him draw near to me, if I’m intentionally living a life of sin and seeking to serve myself rather than God.”
“Can’t have it both ways,” Stan replied. “I can’t choose sin and self at the same time as I choose God. It’s either drawing near to God by choosing to get rid of what’s keeping me from Him, or it’s choosing to draw near to what’s keeping me from Him.”
“Lots of choices,” I said. “Sometimes I wish God would just make me do what He wants me to do, then I wouldn’t have to think about it.”
“I understand,” Stan replied, “but that’s not the way it works. God has lots for me to think about and a lot of choices to make if I want to have an ever-deepening relationship with Him.”
Concluding, he added, “That sort of relationship won’t just happen on its own. I have enough experience with me to know that. God wants me to choose and to follow up that choosing with the concrete steps of being cleansed of sin and purified by confessing and repenting. Then comes the next step of being singularly-committed to be His as we draw continually closer to one another.”
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. James 4:8.
Choose for yourselves today whom you will serve. Joshua 24:15.
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body. 1 Corinthians 6:19, 20.
Prayer: Thank you, Father, that you do draw near to me when I choose to draw near to you. Thank you that the drawing near results in an ever-deepening relationship with you. I confess that too often I do not choose to draw closer to you because I choose to do what I want to do apart from you. Please, Father, forgive me. And please help me in following your every step as you lead me in cleansing myself of sin and in being single-minded in choosing to be all you intend. Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Think on this: Do you believe that God will draw near to you when you choose to draw near to Him? Why or why not? Can we do whatever we want apart from God and still have an ever-deepening relationship with Him? Why or why not? What does it look like to have clean hands and a pure heart, and to not be double-minded in your relationship with God? Is that something you would like to have? If so, do you know how that will happen and are you willing to take those steps?