“NO STRINGS ATTACHED?” By Pastor YAU
Text: James 4:7-10 July 13, 2008.
1) On this end of the string: Do you still remember how you flied your kite when you were small? You held that string in your hand trying to get the kite flied the way you want it to but couldn’t do the way you like. That’s not how Ray Bethell flew his kites. As the world’s champion of kite flying, Mr. Bethell can make multiple kites twist and turn in such precision that they behave as if they are one, synchronizing their patterns and movements.
2) On the other end of the string: Here is a poem written by the famous song writer John
WE DON’T LIKE STRINGS:
1) It’s in our nature: When our boy, Franklin, was small, may be at about 3 or 4 years of age, his Mom won’t allow him to play in the church playground like other kids did because it was on Sunday and he was all dressed up in clean and nice Sunday outfit, he protested, “Mom, can you give me more freedom?” This nature of resisting authority and the quest of freedom stems from human nature which existed in the hearts of all human being. Eve was the leader of this resistance. She shrugged off commands of God and did exactly what God told her not to. We want to do things our way.
2) It’s the cause of fights: Freedom and the struggle of freedom has been the central theme of human history. Many books were written, songs were composed, stories were told in words and drama on glorious history of fights of freedom. In recent years, the fight for freedom and democracy has been cited in wars and conflicts for all kinds of reasons some are nobler than others but all have caused loss of countless lives and unknown amount of destruction of properties.
3) It’s a subtle scheme: Commercials on TV, radio or flyers offer free something, from membership to merchandise to vacation to prizes usually end with such assurance: No string attached. The merchants who want you to try their products realize that people don’t like attached strings which will control them in the long run. This makes me wonder why and how businesses could survive in giving out something for nothing from potential customers. Do they really care about me and what I need and want or it is a money making scheme too many people have swamped themselves.
4) It’s about responsibility: Many people want to have free rides without any responsibility. These people want many things in their lives but don’t like to be bound by responsibility such as promises, commitments or contracts. This is seen in everyday life from inter-personal relationships to employment to even religious life: I will get what I want but don’t try to pin me down with responsibility. Today, it is hard to trust anyone in any relationship, personal or business or religious. Very few people are willing to take responsibility for their choices and fewer will fulfill their promises they had made.
STRINGS ARE NOT ALL BAD:
1) Strings keep kites fly high: Regardless of what some may feel the need of freedom of kites, the fact is no kite can fly, much less fly higher, without the hold of a string. It is the power of wind drag that helps to push kites to fly. Without a string, there is no wind drag and kites will fall like flying leaves and everything else. I don’t know what a kite is for when it can’t fly.
2) Strings keep us aim high: The same principle applies to us. Life without strings is like life all free, no boundary, no limit, nothing incomplete and all things automatic. The tendency of mediocrity will certainly sink into our mindset and takes away the desire to get higher and become better and the joy of achieving our goals. It is the endeavor, the pushing ahead and the go-and-get-it that makes life challenging, meaningful and worth living. Without the friction of the road surface, the wheels of a car get nowhere.
3) Strings keep us under control: Imagine you drive a car with no brakes. It may certainly run but can’t stop. If you are as honest as most of us that we need to be stopped sometimes and somewhere in our life. Without anything to stop us life may lead to unforeseen disasters. No one is all knowing and all powerful. We all may make mistakes, wrong choices and heading for doomsday if no one or nothing to stop us on the way. That’s why we need speed limits on highways, words of caution or advice from family and friends so we may stop and think what we do and where we go. Reckless life is like reckless driving, it is going to hurt someone or self.
4) Strings keep us work together: If strings are limits, role play, responsibility and fulfillment of obligations, life with strings on all people makes life more secured, predictable, peaceful and enjoyable. We live in communities, big and small, and we need each other to contribute their parts to make life worth living. When one or more ignore their strings and do whatever they like, you may want to move away from these people. It is the strings, the limits, the boundaries that help us to live within them that make life without worry. Few people like to live on one-man islands.
THE STRINGS FROM GOD: (James 4:7-10)
1) Strings for submission: “Submit yourselves to God.” (4:7a) James encouraged the Christians, then and now, to submit their lives and desires to God. Submission to God and His will is the key of trust in our relationship with God. There may be times and things we don’t like to see, to have or to understand, but by submitting to God, we put our trust in God’s hands instead of ours.
2) Strings for resistance: “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” (4:7b)Temptation and enticement from the devil to do wrong, to violate the commands of God or moral code of conduct is not new and neither are the terrible consequences that come with them. God asks that we be submissive to His strings so we may have the wisdom and strength to resist the devil’s schemes.
3) Strings to draw near to God: “Come near to God and He will come near to you.” (4:8a)Human nature drives men to run away from God, just as children want to run away from their parents on crossing a busy street or in a busy shopping mall. We think we can handle everything in our life and we just don’t need God to look over our shoulders all the time. That is why God some times places strings in our environment to keep us from running too far and become wild. Drawing near to God has every benefit to be safe and sound.
4) Strings to keep us cleansed: “Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” (4:8b)Double-minded means wavering of faith in God. People who do not have strong faith in and a close relationship with God tend to live their lives their own way and putting themselves under the power of sin. Strings of God may prevent us from the power of self-sufficiency so we are better protected from sin.
5) Strings that lead to repentance: “Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and joy to gloom.” (4:9) People who live their lives without God rejoice in sins and their sinful satisfaction. God asks that His people need to feel sad and grieving on their sins and the consequences. God, in many cases, set boundaries and allow consequences of sin to fall on those who ignore God’s law so they may repent of their sins and return or draw near God. We hear stories after stories of these acts of God to bring sinners back to Him. Do not blame God for disciplinary action from Him. They are done for your own good like bitter medicine heals sickness.
6) Strings that lift you up: “Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will lift you up.” ()Most of us don’t like strings, all kinds of strings including those from God, because we feel like being pinned down and helpless. But that’s far away from the truth. Human strings may pin you down and make you feel you are getting nowhere. But the strings of God will eventually lift you up because of our submission and His grace. God never wants to pin down anyone. All He wants is to call our attention so we may draw closer to Him to receive blessings. In fact, God’s strings are a safety net that keeps us from falling from His grace.
1) Not all strings are bad: Many strings are there to help us fulfill our responsibilities that help all people around us. We want to be good contributing members of the community, family, church and the nation. Strings from God play a much better role in keeping us straight out of trouble. Learn to live with some strings attached to our everyday life and live your life with less trouble.
2) Don’t cut off all strings: some of the strings in our life help us to strive better, grow stronger and aim higher. Without these strings, life will be too easy without challenges and/or achievements especially those from God. His training with limits and restriction are designed to grow us better, higher and more productive. Stay within His grace and guidance.
3) The string of salvation: No one can do anything to save himself from the power and agony of sin. No one can do anything to save himself from eternal loss of his soul. God has given us a string, the lifeline of salvation thro faith in His son, Jesus Christ. Take Him to your heart and He will forgive you your sins and grant you abundant life here and eternal life with Him in heaven.