James continued - "You do not have because you do not ask." These Christians went about trying to get what they wanted without prayer. No one will find true peace or satisfaction without the Lord as the center of his life. Christians today often don't have the blessings they need because: (1) They seek after them in a sinful manner or (2) They don't ask God to give them the needed blessings.
"You ask and do not receive because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures" (4:3). To ask amiss is to ask with an improper motive. There were some who were praying to God for their desires to be fulfilled, but their desires were focused on earthly things. As a result they didn't receive what they wanted. It is important that we ask the Lord for the right things, in the right way, with the right motive! If our prayers are only exercises in selfishness, then our petitions to God are in vain; they are a waste of time and will not be answered as we wish!
4:4 declares - "Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God." Some believe the text should only say adulteresses, not adulterers and adulteresses. Why, you ask? Is James just singling out female Christians? No. The New Testament elsewhere states that Christians are married to the Lord. The church, which is composed of Christians, is His bride (cf. Rom. 7:1-4). Now think about it: If Jesus is a spiritual husband and the church is His spiritual wife, then what would you call unfaithful Christians? Adulteresses!
And that is the label James has given to any Christian who has fallen in love with the world. Christians, to love this life and the things in this world is to cheat on your husband, Jesus Christ. To be overly concerned about physical desires and earthly pleasures is to be a spiritual adulteress! When we participate in the sins of the world, we are friends of the world. We must focus our affections on that which is above (Col. 3:1,2). When we take the time, energy, and love that should belong to Jesus, and we squander it on the world, then we have broken our spiritual marriage vow to Him--we are adulteresses!
Though some will try their best, it is not possible to be a friend of the world and a friend of God. We can't hold God's hand and pat Satan on the back simultaneously! As Jesus said, "No one can serve two masters...You cannot serve God and mammon" (Matt. 6:24). Take special note of the wording James used in 4:4. If we desire to be a friend of worldliness, then we are enemies with God. That's right, those who would rather pursue their own desires are God's enemies, whether they realize it or not! When our actions show that we value money over worship, possessions over God's word, and pleasure over good stewardship, then we're basically declaring war against God, even if we use our lips to say: "We love God and believe in Jesus."
Friends, what is your focus in life? Do you spend most of your time and energy on the things of this world--things that aren't even going to matter 100 years from now? Is God your first priority or is it the world?