Okay so this first section is a holdover from last week… it is still hitting me pretty hard – at least the last section is. Sorry to repeat a portion of the study. Like I said, there is a lot to unpack here and things hit me sometimes a week later…so with that said, let me know your thoughts on this. Deeds vs. faith – also how do you define deeds?
Box 2 = Someone living in Sin
Box 3 = Someone living in Sin
Box 4 = ???
What is your answer to #4…some have said that it cannot exist. Some say new Christian falls into this box. Others say no way. Anyway, as I said, a carryover from last week’s topic in James 2.
Now on to the study at hand… James 3 – a short chapter with a lot of stuff packed in. Living with our tongue… Ugh… this chapter is speaking to me just as much as the others. Faith, deeds and now controlling our tongue. So much to unpack…
Taming the Tongue
James 1: In order to teach a person must be held at a higher standard than that of you and me. Why? Well, if a person is responsible for teaching us, guiding us, offering us council, that person is guiding our spiritual life. That person holds a place of value in our lives. If that person is corruptible, or in it for themselves and what they can get out of helping others, their motives are wrong and they may affect our spiritual life.
James 2: To me this means that if I can control what we say on a daily basis, we can keep the rest of our body and mind in check. How hard this is though. How many times have I said something out loud to someone and wished a second later I could take it back? Or better yet, what have I said under my breath or to myself? How many times have I bragged about this or that, exaggerated a story to “make it more interesting,” gossiped about someone, and the list goes on and on. I am far from being a perfect man, and this point proves it. I struggle every day to keep my tongue, and therefore my body, in check.
James 3 – 5: How true this is for me. I think about why various people call certain “Christians” hypocrites. They actually have an image in mind that they feel we should be like (and when I think about it, so do I.) The problem is, at least in my view, there are so many times that our tongues grabs hold of us and we give that person a reason to say we are a hypocrite. There are times when it feels like we do everything imaginable that we are NOT suppose to do. We pump ourselves up to the detriment of someone else. We boast, we put others down and ridicule them, we gossip, we are manipulative, we complain, we lie to others, etc. Need I say more?
For me, this is basically a nice reminder that little things turn into big things in just one fast moment. And there are others out there watching us… ready to tell us we made that mistake, and say something like “And you wonder why I am not a Christian…” It is also a reminder that we need to be more aware of what we are suppose to act like. We are suppose to act more Christ like. We are not suppose to be more Michael like… more self-centered like…. More what is in it for me like… etc.
James 6 – 7: Nice little reminder that the devil is there to help me every step of the way… willing to share various new ways to sharpen my tongue.
James 9 – 12: Again, for me this week is the “Christian hypocrite” thought. There are times when we say we should be doing one thing, yet we do another. We praise God all day long, and yet we insult someone. We sing a song of praise, yet throw someone under the bus to help move along our career. There are times when we wear our “Christian image outfit” on Sunday and then where something else all week long. Then on Sunday morning, we open up that drawer again and put back on that outfit. We sing our praise, we love our brothers, we help someone out… and then Monday morning comes around again. Basically we are making our faith and love of God, a weekly event rather than a daily event. Do I do this? Sometimes… Am I working on this? Yes.
Two Kinds of Wisdom
James 13 – 18: Basically James is saying to me that everyone is jealous once in awhile. Everyone is selfish once in a while. Know that. Understand that. We are human. We have free will and this will impact us from time to time. The devil is working just as hard to push our thoughts the wrong direction – all the time. So we are basically working with two strikes against right out of the box – me (strike 1) and the devil (strike 2).
Knowing that, I had to gather a better understanding of the two kinds of wisdom. The two kinds of wisdom are earthly wisdom and heavenly wisdom. Earthly wisdom is that which we are trying to avoid. All the things that I noted above that people call us out on. One of the reasons, that they call us hypocrites. Heavenly wisdom is basically the opposite of everything selfish.
To illustrate this point this is my running comparison: When we laugh at someone’s mistake (earthly wisdom) we should be helping (heavenly wisdom). When a person is lonely and we run away for fear of being “bothered” (EW), we should be embracing them (HW). When a person is mad and we help fuel that anger (EW), we should be counseling him and calming him down (HW). When a person is boastful and we are right there along side him (EW), we should be genuine and sincere and have no part of that (HW). There is such a difference there.
I read recently a comparison between James 3:17 and Galatians 5:22. The piece that I read said that in Galatians 5:22, Paul says that God’s spirit makes us loving, happy, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled, almost exactly the same characteristic that James says are in wisdom that comes from above. Paul calls this the ‘fruit of the spirit’ while James calls it ‘wisdom from heaven’ but, in fact, they are the same thing.
This is a lot in such a small chapter. We are really starting to dig in now. For more, head over to http://vagabondrunn.wordpress.com/.