CategoryJames

Confrontation

 

Confrontation has never been and never will be an easy task. Just because it is not easy does not mean that Christians are not supposed to do it. James, in closing his letter to the Jews, makes a final appeal to them, knowing that it is a difficult task.

James 5:19 – Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him;

Have you ever felt led by God to confront somebody for something that you know they are doing wrong? Several emotions probably resulted from this leading. One, you may have felt fear of losing their friendship, and the friendship of others as well. Two, you were worried what might happen to that person if you did not confront them. These two emotions pulled on each other and drew you one way or the other, depending on the day.

Let’s put three scenarios on the table. First, we have a young Christian man who is starting to hang out with the wrong crowd. You notice your friend, the young man, and you decide to not confront him about his actions. This young man slowly goes down the path of the world, and gets into drugs and alcohol. He then commits various crimes with his group of bad friends, and eventually ends up dead. His life wasted for God, perhaps because someone did not confront him when they had the chance.

Reverse the scenario now. We have a young Christian man who you see hanging with the wrong crowd. You confront him about it, and he repents and goes back to serving the Lord. He grows up, becomes an evangelist, and leads one of the greatest revivals of all time, perhaps because someone confronted him, when they had the chance.

In a different case, you have a Christian teenage girl who is starting to fall into the devil’s trap. You see her, confront her about it, and she repents. The next week she leads one little boy to Christ at Vacation Bible School. Two days later she is killed in a car accident, but the boy goes on to be a preacher, and keeps his congregation living for the Lord.

The questions that the author wishes to put forth are as follows. Do you care about souls enough, that you you would confront them when led of God? Do you worry enough about what might happen because you didn’t confront someone? Is it worth it to you to lose a friend on earth, to gain acceptance from God in Heaven?

Do you love God enough that if he tells you to go, you would, no matter what?

If there are any doubts about it being worth it, James wrote James 5:20.

James 5:20 – Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.

 

Waiting For The Rapture

What are you waiting for? Perhaps it is your next paycheck, or maybe you will finally be able to drive. While neither of those things are wrong things to wait for, there is something better that Christians can look forward to, and that is the rapture. There is a chance that the rapture will not happen in your lifetime, and that is fine, but one should live as though the rapture is coming in 30 seconds. Not only will Christians get to leave the persecution of Christians from earth, but more importantly they will be able to see the God that they had been serving in their lifetimes. James reminds his readers to be patient, in a rather encouraging section of his epistle.

James 5:7-8 – Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.

James gives an example of patience; one that no doubt fitted the time frame of his day. Note that the husbandman is not waiting for a new chariot and horses, he is waiting for precious fruit, so he can sell and provide for he and his families needs. The same perspective should be found in Christians looking for the rapture. Christian’s shouldn’t be looking for the next video game or the newest iPhone more than they look for the rapture. They should instead be looking to serve God better with their lives, and in turn be ready for the rapture, if it were to happen that day.

James 5:9 – Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door.

Grudge not one against another. Since the coming of the rapture is nearer every day, it would be wise to reconcile differences before the rapture happens. Obviously your last committed act on earth as a Christian would want to have been something to the glory of God. To go one step further, if a Christian is bickering with an unsaved coworker or even an unsaved family member, and the rapture happens, for the rest of eternity you will know that you can never ask for forgiveness from that person, and that you could have been a better light for Christ and led them to the Lord.

1 Thessalonians 5:2 – For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.

 

Chasing Earthly Treasures

Give one good reason for a Christian to spend his entire life in pursuit of earthly treasures. Newsflash, either you are going to die and leave all your treasures on earth, or the rapture will take place during your lifetime and your treasures will again, be left behind. With that in mind, take into account something else, something more important. What does the Great Commission say? Does it say: Go ye into all the world and make money? Or how about: Go ye into all the world and become the most famous person ever in your field? No, it doesn’t. Christians are commanded in the Great Commission, to preach the gospel, to all the world. James gives, in his letter to the Jews, somewhat of a little story, describing the folly of the person chasing earthly treasures.

James 5:1-5 – Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you.

Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten.

Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days.

Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth.

Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter.

Large passage of Scripture, but very important. These few verses describe a man who has lived on earth, solely to get all the good things in life for himself. He had lived a life of luxury and was probably nearing the end of his life. He pulled out his purse to count all the money he had, but when he pulled out the gold, it was corrupted, not good for anything. He then got up to get dressed for the day, and his rich garments were worn out. All his riches were in someway ruined and the misery of the situation overcomes him. He had worked his whole life for glory, fame, and riches, but now he has been decreased to rags. What is the purpose of collecting material wealth that will break, ruin, or go away? Very well Solomon says in Ecc 1:2-3:

Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.

What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun?

Christians have a choice to make. Serving vanity, or serving God. Even if the path of your life has chosen to serve self to this point, a change can still be made. Just because one starts following the wrong path doesn’t mean that they cannot turn around and get back on the right path. Obstacles to serving God will be faced later in life, as the world will attempt to lure you off the correct path. Just remember this, you can serve the God who sent His only begotten Son to die for the sins of the entire world, or you can serve the fallen angel that forced God to have to do it.

Joshua 24:15a – And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve;

 

 

Tomorrow and Today

What is it about a person’s possible future that makes them so ready to grow up? Could it be that that young person is excited to become an adult? Or perhaps they can finally get a job and have a family. While tomorrow may seem exciting, today is just as important as tomorrow. Christians have the joy of spending not just tomorrow with God, but today as well. Perhaps James noted that his audience needed this kind of mindset change as he, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, expounded on the principle that getting gain today on earth is not profitable in light of what treasures we could lay up in Heaven today.

James 4:13-14 – Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.

James gives a scenario in which people have decided, rather than serving the Lord, to go into a city and make money. Too often the scenario happens in which man chooses money over serving God, and that is a dangerous path to go down. Life is but a vapour; it may not seem like it is quick as a teenager, but in reality it really is. To give an example, I had a friend a while back who greatly influenced my life. Eventually he got a tumor in his brain and died from it, which obviously saddened me. But his purpose on earth was done, and God took him home. Whenever your purpose that God has for you in life is done, He will take you home. Life is a vapour, and tomorrow is not guaranteed. Do what you can for God today, and leave tomorrow to Him.

James 4:15 – For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.

This verse should be the mindset of every Christian. To personalize it for each individual, If the Lord will, ________________. Fill in the blank with every decision you make, but no matter what you put in there, keep God’s plan for your life ahead of everything else. If the Lord will, be a missionary to Africa. If the Lord will, be a pastor of a congregation with thirty people. If the Lord will, His will I do.

Ask and Receive

1 Thessalonians 5:17 – Pray without ceasing.

The commandment for Christians to have a consistent prayer life is clear to see, but it is also important in the day in which we live. Christian principles and values no longer hold any weight to how people live their lives. Revival is needed, but it will not come unless Christians consistently pray for the revival to come for the right reasons and motives. If Christians live how God wants them to live, then they will not be liked by the world. Which is better, the praise of men, or the praise of God?

James 4:1-2 – From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.

The first topic James discusses is the topic of having not because of asking not. One of the problems the author has faced before is going stretches of time without praying everyday, and his Christian walk suffering because of it. Consistent contact with God is the only way to get His divine help in one’s life.

James 4:3 – Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.

Second, James discusses a reason for God saying no to prayer. Sometimes Christians ask for things that they think they need, but God knows they don’t need. There is a difference however, between innocently asking for a supposed need (not knowing the end result of having it granted) and asking for a supposed need for carnal purposes. For example, the author can pray to God and ask for in some way, to get a kitten for Christmas. Now, this is not for carnal purposes, but it isn’t God’s will, and on Christmas the author gets something different. Suppose a guy named Bob prays for a car, but wants it so he can sneak out at night and go party with friends that his parents don’t allow him to be around. That could be seen as a carnal request, and since God sees past the outside, He says no. In either case, God said no to a request that the person did not need, and Christians must accept that and move on according to the Bible’s principles.

James 4:4 – Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

If a Christian loves God, they will be the enemy of the world. If a Christian loves the world, they become the enemy of God. That is a strong statement in verse four. How would you like to known as an “enemy of God?” To some, they probably would not care about the statement and move on, focusing on the temporal things of the world. Being an enemy of God is a problem. Just one serious read of the book of Exodus is enough to give anyone a healthy fear of God’s power and strength. While it may produce a healthy fear, it gives more meaning to Romans 8:31: If God be for us, who can be against us? Our God is powerful, and if we are at His side, that is the safest place to be.

 

 

 

Wisdom from Faith

Who do you follow? Is he some sports star or a movie actress? Or perhaps there is a close relative or friend that you view as wise? How do you know they are wise? What are their actions based against the God’s standards? In James 3:13-18, James talks about wise people and the qualifications they should have.

James 3:13 – Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.

This is a call to look at who you are following and base your decision on whether or not follow them. Look specifically at their works in the world. While works do not show all of a man’s character, as they can be a false narrative, works do have a major role in deciding who you should or shouldn’t follow. Don’t trust just anyone however, as the Bible goes on to contrast a person with earthly wisdom, and a person with Heavenly wisdom.

James 3:14-16 – But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.

Here is found the first part of the contrast. What is a person with earthly wisdom like? The Bible says that having “bitter envying and strife in your hearts” is “earthly, sensual, devilish.” Not the greatest three terms you want to describe a Christian role model. But take this to a personal level, everyone is called to be a leader. Everyone has somebody watching them. How will you act for that person who follows you?

James 3:17-18 – But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.

The answer to the last question put forth is found in these two verses. What is a heavenly role model like? Pure, not sinning. Peaceable, not fighting. Without hypocrisy, practicing what you preach. These are just a few of the qualities to be a leader and role model for people watching you. Will you lead them to the cross, or will you lead them away from it?

 

The Tongue’s Fire

Fire burns. Campfire, controlled fire, or uncontrolled fire, the fact is that fire burns in every situation. Fire burns houses to the ground, levels beautiful green forests, and crashes airplanes with passengers onboard. A campfire could give warmth to explorers in cold, freezing areas or toast marshmallows for hungry campers. Fire can be destructive or constructive, depending on how it is used.

James 3:6-10: And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.  For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.

The Bible directly calls the tongue a fire. Since the Bible is the ultimate source of truth, this metaphor is  true and thus one can proceed without any doubts. The tongue is a fire, and is an unruly evil. Many times the author has, in his sinfulness, burned the house down with his tongue. One may think this is exaggeration. People don’t always realize the seriousness of the wounds caused by the tongue; when a person is burned by real fire however, they are very concerned. If one would take into consideration the fact that some words can hurt more than fire, the so called exaggeration the author made by saying he “burned the house down with his tongue” becomes more realistic of an outcome. The author disrespected his parents to the point where neither the child or the parent cared to talk to the other for quite some time. That is, until the wounds started to heal just a little.

Not only can the tongue be used for evil, but James reminds his readers that the tongue is also used to praise God in song at church; the same tongue we used to disrespect our parents in the car twenty minutes earlier or belittle a sibling in that same time period. How is it, that we can praise God with a smile on our face, after we disrespect our parents in anger? How dare we think that God is willing to hear our praises to Him, when we have sin in our lives! Quite well James writes in verse ten: “My brethren, these things ought not so to be!

To conclude, consider your words the next time you speak. Think before you speak; how would Jesus respond in your situation? Would He lash out at his parents in anger? Would He berate his younger brothers or sisters? Would He watch his words in everything He said? Would you?

 

 

 

Respect of Persons

Different jobs have different levels of disgust to them. That kind of job may to some people be beneath the line of work that they would think they deserve to do. With this mindset, one slowly gains a false sense of self-importance that they carry with them throughout their teenage and even their adult years if unchanged. Not only does this logic towards jobs create this mindset towards the job, but it creates the mindset towards other people who have the job. This respect of persons is ungodly, and James discusses it in today’s passage in James 2:1-3, 8-.

James opens this section of the book with a command.

James 2:1 – My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.

In other words, don’t try to live life as a Christian if you have respect of persons. While committing respect of persons does not make one lose their salvation, James essentially states you cannot be walking the Christian life correctly and committing respect of persons. Choose one or the other; by trying to do both, one essentially becomes unprofitable and useless for God.

James 2:2-3 – For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool:

The point the author would like to make is not about what the ambiguous person who made the decision to favor the rich man over the poor man. Instead, believers should question their own hearts on what they would do if and when they get into this situation. One may wonder the best way to treat the situation. To esteem the rich man better than the poor is wrong, and to esteem the poor man above the rich man is also wrong. There is middle ground, and that would be to treat them both the same, as James makes the case for in verse 8.

James 1:8 – If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well:

Both men count as a “neighbor”, and the commandment of “treating neighbors as thyself” is restated. One can only treat himself one way, therefore, that same person must treat everyone one way. There cannot be preference regarding respect of persons, and James calls it a sin in the next verse.

James 1:9 – But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.

In closing, respect of persons must not be in any Christian whose goal is to be godly. Treating everyone alike will earn the approval of God; His divine approval should be what every Christian looks for on a minute by minute basis. Remember as well, Jesus could call the Christians up to Heaven at any time, and tomorrow is not promised to anyone. If one has committed respect of persons, it would be a good idea for them to ask forgiveness for it, and repent of it, so they can get back on track for God.

 

Hearers and Doers

There are two types of Christians in the world today. One group hears preaching at church, reads the Bible, and goes their way thinking nothing more of it. The other group lives the principles from the preaching they heard at church, bases their life standards off of the Bible, and goes their way with the purpose of serving God. James addresses this distinction starting in James 1:22.

James 1:22 – But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.

The obvious command is to be a doer of the word, but do not miss another part of this verse. Take the phrase “and not hearers only.” Not only are Christians told to follow the principles in the Bible, a subtle command is to listen to the Word preached and taught. What the author thinks some people may miss is the fact that Christians are to listen to those who have studied the Bible longer. There are limits, for example, the author would not go to a Catholic priest for Biblical advice, simply because the Catholic viewpoints are not what the author believes. But just because a Baptist preacher is sixty, seventy, years old does not mean they don’t understand the Bible for the current generation.

There is another phrase in verse 22 to look at: “deceiving your own selves.” A Christian may think they are a great Christian because of their accomplishments. However, just because one goes to church every time the doors are open does not take away from the fact that God has principles He wants followed. The author could go to church all the time but if he is rebellious to his parents, God will still hold the author accountable for not being a doer of the word but a hearer only. One must be very careful to not deceive himself or herself into thinking they are a good Christian based on works. Rather, one should look to please God in all aspects of life, and not be concerned with what people think of their works.

James 1:25 – But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.

Verse 25 gives Christians a benefit to being a hearer and a doer, as the verse says “this man shall be blessed in his deed.” The blessings of God will always outrank the praise or acceptance of man. This statement may seem hard to live by on earth, as the majority of the worldly culture pushes for fame and glory. There should be a clear difference between the Christian and the non-believer’s goals. For example, for people who don’t believe in God, they do not believe in life after death. So in their mindset, no matter what they do during their life span on earth, it won’t affect them. Christians on the other hand do believe in life after death, and should life their life accordingly. Remember the praise of men is temporary, while the praise and blessing (or lack thereof!) of God are eternal. Christians should be both hearers and doers of the word for a true godly Christian life.

Analysis of James 1:19

Some verses in the Bible have so many principles or practical messages in them that they require their own blog post to be discussed in any depth. This is not to say that one verse is more important than another, but there are some differences in certain cases. Such is the case with this verse, James 1:19. James starts a new section of his letter with the verse and makes a powerful statement filled with three principles to live by: swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.

James 1:19 – Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:

The first point that James makes in this familiar verse 19 is that every person needs to be swift to hear. In the author’s personal life, a decent number of problems result from a lack of listening to the other person. However, it is not enough to just listen to what a person said; one has to be able to comprehend the meaning conveyed. For a very simple example, if a friend tells the author the sky is blue, the author must be able to understand basic grammar, as well as colors and what the sky is. As this is one of the simpler examples, it comes to people much faster than some other examples that could have been used, but the principle involved is valuable and needed for everyday conversations.

The second point James discusses in this verse is to be slow to speak. The author openly will admit that he has a firsthand problem with this one, and can speak from a decent amount of experience. As the radio host Rush Limbaugh has said before, words mean things. While the statement was made in reference to political issues, the author would like to draw lines to connect the quote with spiritual matters. It is possible that my words are trusted by some of the readers of the blog. If the author conveys any wrong Scriptural meaning in his posts, the readers may have been inadvertently tricked into believing something that is not true. The author then is responsible for that person’s believing the wrong things, and will also be in trouble when tried by almighty God for his life’s actions.

To give another example of “Words mean things”, let’s say the author says something very hurtful with his tongue to a person named Johnny. The author realizes his sin and asks for forgiveness. Johnny can easily forgive the author for the hurtful words, but the pain Johnny has from the words does not go away as soon as the author is forgiven. Words mean things, so James encourages the believers to watch what they say when talking.

James makes a third point in this verse, and that is to be slow to wrath. Wrath is the cause of grudges and other more hateful acts, and needs to be kept in check. Besides that, the testimony of a Christian is not to reflect anger and bitterness, but cheerfulness and kindness. However, there are times where wrath is justified, as the best example for the Christian life, Jesus Christ, showed readers of the Bible when He cleansed the temple of God. The only place for wrath is when it comes to sin. One must be very careful to not be angry with the sinner, just the sin. Wrath towards sinners does not push the cause of Christ, as is seen in verse 20, which complements verse 19.

James 1:20 – For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.

To conclude, James opens this section of his letter with three strong principles that apply to every Christian’s life. One should take care to listen and comprehend the meaning of words, as well as know how to speak words that edify and not destroy. Wrath should be nonexistent when relating to God or other sinners, but righteous anger towards sin should be apart of every Christian’s life. These principles can and should be applied every day, if one wishes to live a life honoring God.

 

 

 

 

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