Jenga is a game that was popular in the ‘States’ twenty-five or so years ago. I still have my Jenga blocks. It is a game of balance. To begin the game, you must first build the blocks into a tower, in a specific way. Just as the blocks must be in place before the fun, of taking one block out at a time, begins, before we can understand what the Bible means in a specific verse, we need to see where that verse is placed.
I got a letter from a friend asking what, “Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom” (James 4:9) was all about. Didn’t GOD want us to be happy. She had taken that verse all by itself, and it confused her. I told her, “The text is best understood, when taken in context of what is happening when it is spoken.
“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something, but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely? But he gives us more grace” (James 4:1-6)
“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. (over what you have done and what you lack). Change your laughter (enjoyment of the world) to mourning and your joy (in things of this world), to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up (James 4:6-10).
The meaning of verse 9 is clear, when we take it in the setting we find it in. (When have lived by the world’s/devil’s standards, and have valued what the world values, we have acted as an enemy of GOD. We need to recognize, and acknowledge that, and grieve and mourn our past actions. We need to desire to be freed from our old corrupt perspective. We have laughed over what the world laughs at, and we have found joy in the things of this world. We need to turn from that. Only as we grieve over our past pursuits, of the shallow lusts of the eyes (materialism- what we see and then want), and the lusts of flesh (physical desires beyond the boundaries GOD has set), and the pride of life (its all about me), unless we repent (turn from them), can we recognize what GOD offers. Then, as we begin desiring the things of GOD, we will be filled with the HOLY SPIRIT, and changed, little by little, into the likeness of JESUS (2 Corinthians 3:18, Romans 8:29).
Our attitudes change little by little. Just as a child in school, we learn line on line. We learn addition before subtraction, and then go on to multiplication (Isaiah 28:9-10). In other words, one lesson must be learned before we are ready for another. Like, Jenga blocks, truths are built on each other. Notice how mourning, grief and wailing comes in.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:3). First, we recognize our need.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Matthew 5:4). Then, we mourn what we have done, and for what is missing in our lives.
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5). Then, we recognize GOD is our source and supply.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled” (Matthew 5:6). Which leads to wanting to do and be right. Only then can the HOLY SPIRIT fill us.
Did you notice that only after grieving and mourning our chasing after the emptiness of this world, we come to recognize our source is in GOD, not ourselves? Then, when we begin to hunger and thirst for righteousness, GOD HIMSELF fills us with HIS HOLY SPIRIT. Who then, in turn bears HIS fruit of righteousness in our lives (Galatians 5:22-23).
Is there something in your life that shouldn’t be there? Do you mourn and grieve, and wail to GOD concerning that which is not right in your lives? If you don’t, you are missing out on good things GOD wants to give you.
Looking unto JESUS, the Author and Perfector of my faith.