The apostle Paul Rom. Both men taught that faith in Christ was central and must affect all of life. The largest group is average and the numbers of below-average and above-average students will form the slopes on either side. A grading system based on the curve means that a teacher decides on a magic point in the learning curve. Every grade above that point passes. In this picture, no one gets a perfect failure or success grade.
Each person fits somewhere on the curve. This kind of thinking even affects people who have spent a lot of time in church. They will agree that we can observe a variety of successes in living moral lives. Shown a bell curve on a sheet of paper, they can suggest names that should be placed on the right side of the curve, like Billy Graham and Mother Theresa.
They will also mention names that fit on the left side, like Hitler, Hussein and other notorious tyrants. If told that the passing grade is a point at the center of the curve and then asked to locate where their lives fit, they will almost invariably put themselves right next to the passing grade, on one side or the other. Asked if they know they have passed, many will shrug and admit their uncertainty.
A few will confess they live lives of quiet desperation, not knowing from one day to the next if God would give their lives a passing grade. They need some good news! They are ready to hear about Christ. Some have even found a biblical basis for their approach in this passage in James. They are wrong. But those who believe God grades on a curve are practicing faith in works. His focus in this passage is on those who are claiming a faith disconnected from life and those with a faith that connects with life.
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James was concerned about the two ways people were living out their claims to faith in Christ. He made some crucial points. He illustrates this powerfully from Old Testament lives see Go Deeper. Does it accurately picture human standing before God? Absolutely not. All humanity fails. Compared to one another we may find degrees of moral difference; some may live lives that are more morally acceptable. Everyone fails.
Compared to one another we may find degrees of moral difference. Fortunately, the thankful living that faith in Christ requires is well within our reach.
Think about it. How will your life today be a grateful expression for what you know Christ has done for you? Read James —17 again and pray about the way you tend to respond to people in need. How are your actions an expression of your faith? His half brother James echoed the same theme. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire!
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The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water. Go Deeper The first half of this passage focuses on the effect the tongue has on its owner. The tongue causes stumbles James , fires , stains v. But the tongue also creates damage to others, spreading poison v.
The more we use our tongues to slash and burn, the more skillful they become in that task. But the more we use our tongues to help and encourage others, the more able they become in that pursuit as well. You can give life through your tongue. What you say can encourage the dejected. Your words can comfort the sorrowing. And through your continued 35 Go Deeper Continued When King David stopped lying to himself about a sequence of sins and repented before God, he knew what one L of the benefits of forgiveness would be. Small parts can have a huge effect. And tiny glitches can create huge disasters.
James begins his third chapter with several illustrations that are, if possible, even more true today. James wanted his readers to understand what a significant role our tongues play in steering us into or out of trouble. James almost has his tongue in cheek when he points out that the first place most of us stumble is when we trip over our own tongues.
Clydesdales are beautiful and massive horses. Harnessed to a plow or wagon, they can exert tremendous power. And yet, as James reminds us, even the most powerful horse can be steered with a small bit in its mouth. He added the caution that small things can easily grow into large things, gradually developing strength. I have seen this illustrated in a location in Israel I have visited a number of times over the years. I can remember a certain sidewalk that was placed to facilitate visits to a historic location. When it was new, the poured concrete slabs appeared to be a permanent addition to the landscape.
Several years later, I noticed a tiny 36 seedling had taken root in one of the expansion joints of the sidewalk. Impressed with its tenacity, the custodial crew must have left the little tree alone. It grew. In the contest between tree and cement, something had to give. Imperceptibly, the root system and developing trunk of the tree exerted irresistible power.
Huge slabs were shoved aside. Now the sidewalk goes around the tree. What was small and weak became large and strong.
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The principle of patient power can be applied in both healthy and harmful ways in our lives. James tells us that our tongues can cause sparks James —6. These might not be impressive in themselves, but if we produce them in a combustible atmosphere, a huge fire may develop. Conversely, a small but relentless positive habit like daily Bible reading, or a consistent pattern of encouragement, can eventually produce amazing results.
He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. The transition from acorn to oak happens every day but too slowly for us to notice until the results become apparent.
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Our tongues, James tells us, are in a special category. They are ultimately untamable. In other words, we may be able to develop speech control, but our tongues will always retain a wild streak. Our tongues will always be capable of contradiction—trying to say two opposite things at the same time. Our tongues, like rudders and bridles, are instruments under the control of a will.
In a sobering way, our tongues reflect us. Our tongues put our thoughts into words. If our minds are full of sparks and evil intentions, they will escape through our speech. Those around us will be blessed as we develop speech control. Not only will they be spared the sharp and hurtful things we can so easily say, but they will also be blessed as we share the wisdom we learn from God. What did you learn from that stumble?
The outward appearance of those who represent either wisdom does not reveal that they are wise or what form of wisdom they possess. Someone may look wise yet practice foolishness. How can we know the difference? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. Key Verse But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere James Godly, wise living is life in the Spirit, a journey that begins when we turn our lives over to Christ and receive His life in exchange for ours. Along with the gift of eternal life comes the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit.
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See John ; Rom. Both Paul Gal. They come from the same source. Their presence is felt in the same way—by the actions they produce. James had just finished a section in which he described the way we tend to want to talk out of both sides of our mouths. Now he shifts to the issue of wisdom. Progress in godly wisdom will yield good conduct James and integrity of character James describes two kinds of wisdom operating in the world. Before looking at the differences, it would be good to have a working definition of wisdom.
A wise person has a clear worldview, a specific way of looking at life. A wise person applies this worldview to his or her way of life. In other words, wisdom is applied truth. The farther wisdom ignores reality, the farther it moves from the truth. Can someone be wisely evil? All wisdom shares at least one significant trait: practicality.
Both earthly and heavenly wisdom are about getting things done. But when it comes to the big picture and the purpose of life, people move from general wisdom in two directions: earthly and godly. People can strive for high standards and excellence for the wrong reasons. Earthly, unspiritual and demonic wisdom is self-seeking People may be very effective in their pursuits for entirely selfish reasons, which turn out to be dead ends.
History is full of groups or movements that have risen based on applied principles of wisdom in warfare and government but have eventually collapsed and failed because the byproducts disorder and vile practices overwhelmed the wise structures that allowed them to flourish. Earthly wisdom does lead to achievement but ultimately at too high a cost. Or what shall a man give in return for his life? He points out eight characteristics that will be present in situations where godly wisdom is used. We ask Him for wisdom because we know He is the ultimate source. We ask Him for wisdom because we understand how quickly we reach the end of our wisdom Ask God to pour His wisdom into your life for His purposes.
If we have to live in the world, what practical life decisions can we make to keep us from becoming of the world? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-mind- ed.
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Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Key Verse Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you James The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. But who are you to judge your neighbor? But how does this affect any desire we might have to share the Gospel with people we know? Is wit- nessing a form of friendship with the world? Some of our confusion has to do with thinking that we can do whatever God does.
John says that God loves all the people in the world. First John cautions us not to love the way those people think, act and live. To be like God, we love people but not their sinful ways. One of the telltale signs of friendship with the world is fear of offense. Why would you hesitate to talk about T your greatest friend, Jesus, who died for you? Show your love for people by not befriending those things they do that appall God. Instead, demonstrate the love of Christ in your witness to them. His letter is filled with comparisons. He wants us to make wise choices, so he shows us the contrasts between such choices as resenting suffering or accepting suffering, having empty faith or exercising working faith, pursuing worldly wisdom or godly wisdom, and many more.
The choices we make have consequences. Bad choices lead to long-term bad consequences; good choices lead to good consequences. James —12 offers us a powerful contrast between friendship with the world and friendship with God. James had Christians in mind. This is part of what James means by accusing his fellow believers and us of friend- 48 ship with the world. In this chapter, James gives us six deliberate actions that will disarm quarrels and fights in the church and prevent us from being mistaken for the world.
We take the first, crucial action when we submit to Him, right where we are, in whatever mess we presently find ourselves. Defeating evil is such a daunting task that we often give up without any resistance! Resisting evil actually ought to appeal to our rebellious nature. God leans out over the moral and spiritual canyon that separates us, longing for fellowship with us. We can only draw near to God in the way He has graciously provided, through the blood of Jesus. We draw near by crossing the chasm on His cross.
We know that this James was not the apostle James, brother of John, because he was martyred in A. The vast majority of scholars agree that the author of James was the half-brother of Jesus Matt. Apparently he did not believe in Jesus as Lord until after the resurrection, when the risen Savior appeared to him see John ; 1 Cor. He became the leader of the church in Jerusalem in the years following the Day of Pentecost Gal.
I grew up with Him! I knew Him long before He became famous! They had no rights. This identifies his main readers as Jews who lived outside of Israel. It is likely that James was the first New Testament book written, perhaps around A. According to Josephus, James was martyred in Some of the readers had probably been members of the church in Jerusalem, but they had scattered into many locations because of the persecution that arose after the death of Stephen Acts ; Because of anti-Semitism in the Roman Empire, these believers in Christ were often the brunt of hostility both from the pagan world, as well as from their own people.
Word got back to James of some of the difficulties that these brethren were encountering: affliction from without and, as often happens at such times, conflicts within ; Some were lapsing into a superficial, formal religion that professed orthodox beliefs, but practiced selfish, ungodly lifestyles ; ; As a pastor, James writes to these scattered Jewish believers to make the point: True faith shows itself in practical, godly living. He develops several themes: endurance through trials; the dangers of riches and encouragement to the poor; the law and love; faith and works; the coming of the Lord; and, humility.
But his main point is that true biblical faith works. Many writers claim that there is no unifying theme to James, but that it is just a series of unrelated, random exhortations. But, as difficult as it may be to outline the book, I think that the contents may be arranged under this theme of true faith.
James 1 - NIV Bible - James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus C
James is giving a series of tests by which one may determine whether his faith is genuine or false D. I offer this outline:. True faith resists arrogance by humbling oneself before God True faith practices humility by waiting for God to judge the wicked who have wronged us True faith practices humility by speaking the truth apart from self-serving oaths Conclusion: True faith practices biblical love by seeking to restore those who have strayed from the truth Writing to refugees who have suffered the loss of their homes and homeland, plus many of their possessions, who are being persecuted in the places that they have sought refuge, James says,.
When we encounter trials, we should count it as joy, submitting to God, knowing that He is using it for our maturity. It may work for the little irritations that we encounter every day, but is it realistic advice for facing the huge trials that hit us? Before we write off James as a masochistic weirdo, we should recall that two other New Testament writers said similar things. Peter wrote to suffering believers whose faith was being tested by fire. The apostle Paul wrote Rom.
Not only that, but Paul practiced what he preached. As he sat in a Philippian jail cell, unjustly arrested and beaten, unable to sleep, he and Silas sang praises at midnight Acts And so if we write off James as being a bit out of touch with reality, we also have to write off Peter and Paul! The alternative is to consider that perhaps these godly men were onto something. Consider three things:. Although powerful emotions are inevitable when we encounter severe trials, once the emotions have subsided a bit, we need to think about the trial from a biblical perspective.
As Peter wrote 1 Pet. Why did You allow this to happen? And these trials are not necessarily the consequence of disobedience. Rather, God uses them to test our faith. They will be varied according to His sovereign purpose. We cannot understand why He sends the particular trials that He does, but whatever they are, we can know that they are from Him.
I base this observation on several Scriptures. Jesus did not condemn Mary for weeping at the death of her brother Lazarus. Hebrews 13 James 2. Footnotes: James Or brothers and sisters. Cross references: James : See Matt. Bible Gateway Recommends. View more titles. Advance your knowledge of Scripture with this resource library of over 40 reference books, including commentaries and Study Bible notes. Try it for 30 days FREE. You must be logged in to view your newly purchased content.
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