“Submit therefore to God” (James 4:7a).
The truly humble will submit to God’s authority.
Most people understand the basic requirements of military service. The first thing anyone experiences when he enlists is his rank within the chain of command under the commanding officer. Implicit in such lining up under the leadership of a superior is that the soldier, sailor, airman, or marine will obediently carry out all he is commanded to do.
However, the military is not the only context in which the concept of submission applies. James 4:7 uses the term “submit” in the far more important arena of our relationship to God. We are to submit to Him and come under the sovereign authority of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the basic requirement for anyone who would be humble before God. Since Scripture often uses military terms to describe our service to God (Phil. 2:25; 2 Tim. 2:3), it is appropriate to see ourselves as enlisting in God’s army, willingly obeying His commands, and following His leadership.
This kind of humble, willing submission to God’s authority is what Jesus meant when He told the disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Luke 9:23). This concept of submission simply means doing God’s will from the heart, no matter what the cost.
The story of the rich young ruler provides a good measuring rod of our submissiveness to God. After the young man professed obedience to God’s law, Jesus tested him further by commanding him to “go and sell all you possess, and give it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me” (Mark 10:21). At that point the young man was not willing to obey Jesus. Instead, “his face fell, and he went away grieved, for he was one who owned much property” (v. 22).
How would you have reacted? Would you have willingly obeyed Jesus’ command, or would you have allowed your pride to keep you from submitting to Him? If you have humbly lined up under God’s authority, the proper response is not difficult.