My morning devotions brought me to James just recently. I like James. He seems to be a no-nonsense, rubber-meets-the-road kind of guy. You best not go to him to do any sort of whining. He just doesn’t take it. You’re having a hard time? Consider it PURE JOY. Money problems? BE PROUD. Don’t know what to do? ASK GOD—and MEAN IT! Or you are unstable in ALL you do. Feeling tempted? Don’t blame God within earshot of this guy! He’ll have none of it!
This isn’t wimpy spirituality. Max’s phrase is, “God never said life was going to be rainbows and lollipops!” You keep your tongue in check, put to work what you believe and persevere through the inevitable trials. He offers no excuses. He says our religion is worthless if we don’t mind our words and care for the widows and orphans AND keep ourselves pure. It is as though he is telling people that they have learned enough and now it is time to step up. There is a time for talk and there is a time for action. And that is all in a short chapter one.
Chapter two tells us to treat everyone with love, without discrimination. We must live with mercy as a constant companion, because we ourselves are most in need of it—seeing as how breaking one little bit of the law constitutes breaking the whole thing! Boy, do I need mercy!
James brings us again to action. If you claim to believe, but nothing in your life testifies to your declaration, your faith is dead. You gotta put it to work! Knowing the bridge is there isn’t enough. You must cross it. Let’s keep moving!
Chapter three jumps right back to the tongue. This is a pivotal issue for James. The importance of what we say cannot be overestimated. For all our achievements, there is still no human who can tame the tongue. Read verse six: “The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.’’ Whew! It doesn’t stop there. Verses 9-12 are here:
9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. 11 Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12 My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.
James encourages us to be aware that there are two sides and we must choose. There is earthly wisdom, which is really demonic wisdom. And there is the wisdom from heaven. We have to stay humble and loving, seeking peace and His will in all we do. We shouldn’t even declare with any certainty our plans for tomorrow. Remember none of us knows the number of our days!
Everything is wrapped up in the final chapter with final reminders. Don’t let money corrupt you, persevere with no grumbling when you suffer, be honest in all your words. Be there for each other. That means praying, being accountable, rejoicing, mourning, comforting—LIVING in EVERY aspect of life with your brothers and sisters. Save each other with Christ’s love.
I like James.