Daily Bible Verse
By Charlie Garrett
Compiled by Rory Wilson
Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us,
But to Your name give glory,
Because of Your mercy,
Because of Your truth. Psalm 115:1
This page comprises the Daily Devotionals that I sent out while working through the book of James. If there's a particular passage in this book that you don't understand, scroll down to read my analysis. I hope what you find will bless you. I want to give my sincere appreciation to Rory Wilson who took the time to compile and edit these for me. God bless you brother!
James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings. James 1:1
Today starts the book of James. This is the Lord’s half-brother; born of Mary and Joseph. He originally was one of those who didn’t believe who Jesus was, but later became the leader of the early church; having witnessed the crucifixion and resurrection of the Lord. Acts 15: verses 12 thru 21 is the passage from which we determine that James was the leader of the early church. After hearing testimony from the entire group and specifically Peter, Paul, and Barnabas, it was James who made the final decision on the matter being discussed.
Today James calls himself “a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.” The Greek word translated as “servant” is “doulos.” This indicates a person who is a slave or bondservant. Rather than proclaim himself, “The brother of the Lord,” he makes it absolutely clear that he is His servant first. There is no sense of high-handedness or boasting in his greeting, but rather a humble submission to his Lord.
As this book was written very early after the establishment of the church, around A.D.48, the letter is addressed to Jewish believers. At this point, the number of non-Jewish believers would have been exceptionally small.
As a short summary of the intent and purpose of the book, we should remember these points: 1.) Author; James, the Lord’s brother; 2.) Date; Mid to late 40s; 3.) Theme; The necessity of living faith; 4.) Purpose; To remind the believers that genuine faith is seen in a life that is changed and produced by living according to God’s wisdom; 5.) Presentation of Christ; Our Wisdom.
In the Old Testament, there are five books known as wisdom literature; Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon. In the New Testament, no book is considered specifically as wisdom literature, but James is the closest to the style and content of a book of wisdom.
Heavenly Father, open our eyes to the wonders of the book of James. Help us to rightly divide it so that we don’t get sidetracked into unnecessary diversions or off onto wild tangents that can only distract us from the intent and purpose of the intended message. May You alone be glorified through our study and learning of this epistle. Amen!
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, James 1:2
As is often the case with the Bible, and particularly the wisdom literature, what seems contradictory to us from a worldly perspective is what the Bible proclaims as that which is right. In our mortal bodies, we look at trials as something to distance ourselves from; hardships as undesirable; and pain as a something to be avoided at all costs. However, the Bible puts these things in a different light and asks us to look beyond the immediate sensation to the purpose behind it.
Job, King David, Solomon, and others were tested in these ways and wrote about what happened. By referring to what they learned, we have a sound and reliable foundation upon which we can study and reflect on our own trials. James received his instruction from these great men through the writings of the Hebrew Scriptures and he builds upon that foundation to help explain the Christian message in its fullness.
This is one of the reasons why it’s so important to read your Bible. It’s been building up and edifying the faithful believer for over 2000 years and is a guide and a blueprint for the troubles of our lives.
James asks us to not only endure trials, but to consider them joyfully – as “pure joy.” The reason will be explained in the verses ahead, but think on what it says today in the context of whatever trial you’re facing. Do you have physical pains? Look at the experience, although painful, with joy. It could be worse than it is. Do you have financial troubles? They could always be worse. Are you facing family problems now? If you endure through them, your relationship may be strengthened at the end.
Whatever trial you’re facing, face it with the knowledge that God allowed it into your life for a set time and for a good purpose. In the end, you’ll see the wisdom of what’s occurred.
Lord God – You are sovereign and Your plans and purposes for our lives will come to pass whether we accept them or not. Because of this, help us to live joyfully in pleasure and in pain, trial and ease, lack or abundance. May we understand that the trials have been given us to teach us something beyond the moment. This we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. James 1:3
Yesterday James told us to consider the facing of trials as “pure joy.” Why? Because by facing them they test our faith. If our faith is real, it will be developed into a stronger faith which can persevere through anything. The Lord already knows if our faith is genuine, so the test isn’t for Him to learn anything. If it were, what would be the point in salvation through faith? He would be looking for works to validate our faith, thus negating the faith. But as Paul says, –
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8, 9
When we get to chapter 2, this will become apparent. For now however, just understand that the testing of our faith develops perseverance and this is to teach us, not the Lord. He knows how much we can take as well and isn’t going to expect more of us than what He already knows we can handle. As we face more challenges though, our ability to face those which are more intense will increase as well. Think of faith as a muscle. When we exercise our muscles, they grow and can withstand more and more work. Faith works in a similar fashion. Because of this, the Lord will challenge it to strengthen it. In the end, your faith will be as strong as He believes is necessary for His sovereign purposes. And then some wonderful day, our faith will become sight.
This will happen when Jesus appears to transform our bodies to be like His. That day is coming, but until it does, have faith… and work out your faith to His glory.
Lord, You know the truth of my faith. You know I love you and that I trust in You alone for my salvation. Increase my faith that I can have a long, strong, and stable walk with You. May You be glorified through the ever-increasing faith I display in You. Amen!
Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:4
Remember the progression of thought –
1) consider trials as pure joy;
2) because these test faith;
3) faith develops perseverance.
Today we see that this is what brings us to a state of fullness and maturity. When we come to this point, we’re lacking nothing in our faith. Think about this from your own situation. What trial are you facing right now (or for even an extended period) in your life?
Let’s say you’re facing a major health problem. This is testing your faith as your learn to trust the Lord in an issue that isn’t simply resolved by medicine or professional help. As your faith in the Lord increases, you learn to persevere through this particular trial, but more importantly in all of the other matters which once seemed so burdensome; they no longer carry the same weight in your life. Once you come to trust in and rely on the Lord in this manner, you have become a mature Christian. James says you’re “not lacking anything.”
God is our Creator. When we trust Him completely in every way and in all issues, we come to the final point of our faith relationship – relying in the One who we should have been relying on all along. He Created us, He is sustaining us even now, He is aware of all things at all times – there is nothing that will come our way which is outside of His knowledge or ability to control. It took Job about 40 chapters of the Bible to fully realize that, but when he did he exclaimed –
I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted. Job 42:2
As this is so, then why be troubled over health, finances, relationships, or any other aspects of which you have no control? He can handle them and He will in the way that is best. Have faith in His wisdom.
Lord, despite trials which are difficult, help me to persevere through them that my trust and faith in You will be built up to a perfect state. May I lack nothing in my faith as a testimony to my complete trust in Your splendid hand. In the end, may You receive the glory as I walk by faith in this world of trials and hardships. Amen.
If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. James 1:5
This is probably the most misquoted verse in the book of James. Almost always, this verse is cited by itself without the context of the surrounding verses. This is not a blanket granting of wisdom for any and all circumstances. Rather, when taken in context, we see that it is a granting of wisdom for one who is facing trials. If you’re facing trials and need to know how to properly respond to the situation, then one should lay their request before the Lord in anticipation of receiving the wisdom necessary to properly handle (not avoid) the situation.
Another point to keep in mind is that it’s through the Bible that we understand God’s intent and purposes for our lives. It would be silly to neglect a study of it and then to expect to receive wisdom apart from it when things get difficult. Instead, it would make much more sense that the general answer to the dilemma is recorded somewhere there already. By praying for wisdom in the matter, we can normally expect that God has previously addressed it and that He will direct us to the place in His word where we can find the answer. As Deuteronomy 4:5, 6 says –
See, I have taught you decrees and laws as the LORD my God commanded me, so that you may follow them in the land you are entering to take possession of it. Observe them carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, "Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people."
“…this will show your wisdom and understanding.” The more you study and know your Bible, the more you will be prepared for life’s trials. In the time of those trials, when your head may not be screwed on too tightly, we can ask God for wisdom and He will direct us to the passage we forgot during the stress of the moment. Then we can apply it to the particular issue which is generally addressed in His word.
Well Lord, I can see from today’s verse the importance of studying and knowing your word. If I neglect it, I’m neglecting the very source of wisdom You have made openly available to me. What a tragedy if I continue to neglect it, to my own hurt. Instead, I desire to study and know it completely. Assist me in this goal – to Your glory. Amen.
But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. James 1:6
Yesterday we were told to ask God for wisdom and it will be given. The context of the verse indicated that this wisdom is to help us understand, handle, and endure trials. With this in mind James says that we need to “believe and not doubt” in the results. If you ask for wisdom in a trial and God provides it by showing you how to handle it, then it’s up to you to take the step of following the wise path. Here’s an example, but this applies to any situation, so think on it from this perspective –
You have a disobedient child and don’t know how to handle him or her.
You ask God for wisdom in how to handle the situation. You’re told there are verses in Proverbs that will help out and you find this one – Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him. Proverbs 22:15. You also notice there are several other Proverbs which deal with this subject. Now you have a couple choices. You can agree with the Bible and discipline your child in a godly manner; you can reject the Bible (which has been a standard of morality in society for 2000 years) and take the advice of someone who disagrees with spanking; or you can try to figure out your own method of restraining your child (which hasn’t worked so far!).
God has given you the instruction which you asked for – take it. Don’t be like a wave which is tossed around by the wind, but stand firm on the Lord’s advice. As another proverb says, “Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish him with the rod, he will not die.” (22:13). God, who created you and your child, knows what is right and best for you. When you doubt, you demonstrate a lack of faith in His counsel. Take His advice and don’t be like a wave tossed by the wind…
Thank You Lord that the general issues of the Bible can be applied to the specific issues of our lives. You’ve provided the wisdom; help us to accept it for what it is - divine guidance meant for our good and for Your glory. Help us not to waiver in our faith when we receive Your wonderful counsel. Amen.
That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; James 1:7
The man James is speaking of is the man who doubts rather than believes. He asks for God’s will in a matter – His wisdom – and then when he receives it, he fails to hold fast to that wisdom.
This is a chronic problem with us. We receive godly instruction at church through sermons, Bible studies, or personal meetings and then we fail to believe the wisdom imparted to us.
Have you ever sat next to a family member in church who is going through a problem and the pastor speaks to that exact problem that very day? They now have all the information necessary to make their decision and yet they doubt what they’ve heard. The reason why this is so offensive is that God has created them, He has given them His guidance in an obvious way, and then simply asks them to have faith that what they’ve received is correct. Instead, they go home with their hands on their faces in frustration – “Oh me, how will this all turn out?” This is the one “like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.” There is no anchor in their life; there is no foundation for their soul.
Instead, they actually expect nothing from the Lord and will receive exactly what they expect…nothing. If this is you, don’t be overly disheartened. We all face doubts in our lives to varying degrees. But James says that as our faith grows we become mature and complete. There is an end to doubt and worry; there is an end to the tempest. It is found in Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ is found in the Bible.
This is why a daily study of the Bible is so important. Again and again Jesus held the “word of God” and the “Scriptures” to the highest level. Why? Because they pointed to Him and those written after His work explain Him. Look for your firm foundation in its pages – you’ll find it under the name “Jesus.”
The anchor holds
Though the ship is battered
The anchor holds
Though the sails are torn
I have fallen on my knees
As I faced the raging seas
The anchor holds
In spite of the storm.
he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does. James 1:8
This is referring to the man who doubts, even after asking God for wisdom. Let’s look at why –
1) A person asks God for wisdom.
2) The very fact that one asks God for wisdom indicates they believe in God.
3) If the One being petitioned is all-knowing, then the wisdom provided will be suitable to the request.
4) Therefore, the person who doubts such wisdom and continues to fret over the possible outcomes is double-minded.
In this scenario, the person is demonstrating a complete lack of faith in the Creator. The future is His responsibility. What is given for today is sufficient for today. It’s for this reason that worry in particular is so damaging to a relationship with God. He asks us to trust that He is going to handle our lives in the appropriate way. The wisdom He gives us for today will be sufficient for the here and now, but if we doubt it then how can God find pleasure in us?
Trust isn’t easy to come by – particularly between humans. But trusting is what establishes relationships. God has given us His word and asks us to trust that it is sufficient. When we doubt the promises of the Bible, then there is a rift in our relationship with the One who gave it in the first place. Think it through and you’ll see that all things occur by His providence and for His purposes. We simply need to trust this is so.
Don’t be double-minded by calling on God and then doubting Him or by worrying about what belongs to Him. Instead have faith that He is in control.
Lord God, you know our weaknesses when it comes to trusting You. You also know that we can’t see the future, which is yet unknown to us. Therefore, help us to direct our hearts, faith, and future to the care of Your hands – without doubt or worry - knowing that You have all things in Your control. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position. James 1:9
What James is saying is in line with literally dozens of verses of the Bible. Someone who lacks humility is there to please himself or to let others know how great he thinks he is. Such a person can’t be pleasing to the Lord in any way. This is because a person like this thinks he “deserves” heaven. But we all fall short of God’s glory. A person who is humble will understand this. Moses was such a person –
(Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.) Numbers 12:3
Moses was exalted because he understood that he was just a mere man – no better than any others and not deserving of any special consideration. The arrogant and boastful feel they deserve such consideration. The Psalms speak a good deal on humility, but in particular this verse fits what James is saying quite nicely –
For the LORD takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with salvation. Psalm 149:4
Only when we realize our own fallen and lowly state will we ever come to the foot of the cross and ask Jesus to save us. As long as we feel we merit God’s favor, we will never do this. But by bowing down to Jesus, God crowns us with salvation. Have you come to the end of your own arrogance and haughtiness? If not, God can’t look upon you with favor. Hand over your boastfulness and acknowledge Jesus is your only hope… and He will satisfy your soul.
Lord, let my soul not be haughty or arrogant in your presence, but rather let me understand my lowly position. You are God; I am the work of Your hands. May I never be presumptuous or boastful about that which you alone have accomplished in my life. In the end, may You alone be glorified. Amen.
But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position, because he will pass away like a wild flower. James 1:10
Here James builds on what is said in Isaiah 40:7, 8 and on what Jesus said in Luke –
"Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! Luke 12:27, 28
Wild flowers are extremely beautiful and come in an almost infinite number of sizes, colors, and shapes. They demonstrate God’s wisdom, gentleness, and love towards us, and yet they’re so transitory that they pass away almost as quickly as they arrive. Their beauty lasts but a moment and then they return to the soil, making compost for the next generation of beauty to rise and be adorned by the morning dew. And this is what James compares the rich to. They are as lowly and transitory as the wild flower of the field. Just as God created the flower’s richness and beauty, so He granted some to be wealthy in this life. But even their wealth is fleeting and their lives are a mere breath. Israel’s wealthiest and wisest king, Solomon, understood this precept –
God gives a man wealth, possessions and honor, so that he lacks nothing his heart desires, but God does not enable him to enjoy them, and a stranger enjoys them instead. Ecclesiastes 6:2
If you’re poor or one of the many who are struggling with finances, remember that God ordained your life for His glory. Your temporary lack will be rewarded with eternal abundance in Christ Jesus. In the same manner, if you’re wealthy and have been triply blessed, remember that your wealth will see an end and your life will fade into eternity – ensure your priorities lie there and not in the gold and silver you have here and now.
Surely Lord the lilies of the field reflect Your glory far more than we do. We fight for more money and more possessions rather than opening our hearts like flowers to praise You. Help us to be as beautiful as even the lowliest wild flower – reflecting Your majesty as we live our lives in Your perfect presence. Amen.
For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich man will fade away even while he goes about his business. James 1:11
Today’s verse, among more to come, is one reason the book of James is equated with Wisdom literature. The style of stating something and then repeating it in a poetic form is common in the books of wisdom. The previous two verses spoke of the humble being exalted, but the wealthy being made lowly. As an example, he provides this verse.
The wild flower, though complex and beautiful, is a temporary adornment of God’s earth. In the Mideast there is a particularly destructive wind which comes out of the east which is known as the khamsin. It’s exceptionally hot and dry. When it comes, everything is tested – man, animal, and plant alike. Even without the khamsin, the sun in the Mideast is direct and torturous. When it comes up, only the heartiest plants can endure the day. The wildflowers in particular will not stand the extreme whether. Despite being elegant and colorful, they quickly fade away.
In comparison, a rich person is usually bathed in ease and comfort. Should any unusual external pressure or trial be brought on them they will find it hard, if not impossible to stand the heat.
On the contrary, the land also has cacti. Despite being largely ignored or shunned, they are hearty and can endure whatever nature inflicts on them. As an interesting comparison, the term for cactus in Hebrew “sabra” is applied to a native-born Israelite. Such a person has normally grown up in otherwise humble circumstances and can endure the trials and pressures of the difficult life in Israel much more readily. Are you a lovely but temporary wild flower, or are you a hearty although less beautiful cactus? If you’re one of the lowly people of the world, rejoice in your exalted position. Jesus gives us the life which is truly life. In His garden, we will be forever fresh and filled with life!
Lord, I may not be beautiful or wealthy by the world’s standards, but I know that I am in Your eyes. Keep me safely in Your care and fill me with Your life-giving water that I can withstand any test from the heat and pressure of life. Amen.
Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. James 1:12
For the past several verses, James has been talking about the high position of humble and the lowly position of the rich. He also mentioned how the rich will fade away like the wildflower. Taking today’s verse in context then, he must be talking about someone who is wealthy and yet endures life’s trials, temptations, and losses without losing heart or faith. Instead of being distracted by the wealth around him, his eyes and heart are on Jesus. Because of this, though his wealth may fade away “even while he goes about his business,” he cannot truly be shaken – he is “looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.”
What trials are you facing today? Are you having financial, family, or health problems? Despite the pain and suffering they cause, these are temporary and will be resolved by our great and loving Creator. Remember what James said as he opened his letter – Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:4
Our trials and pains are developing us for God’s good purposes. When we withstand them honorably and in a way which brings credit to the Lord, He will reward us with something much more permanent and wonderful – the crown of life. As you face your trials, think on this fact and have that confidence which the faithful of old also had – God is working out all things for His glory and for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His plan.
Thank You for reminders such as today’s verse, O Lord. It’s ever-so hard to smile while facing the troubles and pains of this life. But even if I can’t smile, I can still consider these woes as pure joy and look forward to how they are molding me to be more like You. Thank You as well for the promise of the crown of life – something I can look forward to all my days. Amen.
When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; James 1:13
We can’t blame God when we fall into sin – no matter what type or what severity the sin is. Where does the temptation come from then? James will explain in the coming verses, but we can know with certainty that our temptation isn’t from God. Despite this, God is active in keeping us from greater temptation than we can bear.
No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. 1 Corinthians 10:13
The source and the objects of our temptation are no greater than any that other people experience. In addition to this, God always provides a way out of our temptation – just like when Joseph was tempted by Potipher’s wife. Therefore, if we fail to respond correctly and instead act on our inappropriate desires, we really only have ourselves to blame. Likewise, God cannot be tempted by evil. As the Creator, He is incapable of being tempted because all things are from Him and belong to Him; there is no thing by which He can be tempted. He is perfectly complete in Himself.
If you’re being tempted by something right now, the best thing for you to do is to trust in God, pray for His help, and find the exit which the Bible promises God has already provided. Trust Him and His promises and never try to ascribe to Him the source of your evil desires.
Today’s verse reminds me of my struggles Lord. I know what I should do, but I also know the temptations I face. Open my eyes to the avenue of exit You have already provided and keep me from the sins which can only result when I act on my temptations. Strengthen me according to Your great mercy. Amen.
but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. James 1:14
Yesterday we saw that God doesn’t tempt us in any way. Instead, we see that it’s our own evil desires which lead us down the wrong path. Can you remember someone blaming God for their misfortunes? Have you ever done this? We simply can’t ascribe evil or evil intent to God. Rather, our life and circumstances result from chance (read Ecclesiastes for a better understanding of this); from the devil and his demons; or from our own bad decisions. God intends only goodness for us, but allows us to follow the paths of our own making.
In the end, this shows us the great mercy of God. Despite our evil desires leading us astray, God is willing to forgive us in Christ Jesus – if we call out to Him. In addition to this, God is willing to leave us here and to continue to make mistakes even after our salvation. This is so that –
…in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:7
Even after coming to Christ, we fail to please God again and again. When we stand in His presence and see His majesty, we will forever sing His praises. First He saves us, and then He continues to put up with us! Let us attempt at every turn to be pleasing to Him – not gratifying the evil desires of our heart, but standing firm in Him. Rather than being dragged away by sin, let us be ever anchored to the strong and mighty Rock, which is Jesus Christ our Lord!
Lord God! Thank you for enduring us, even when we’re enticed and dragged away by our sins. Keep us from willful sin, but when we fail You, we have the surety that Jesus’ precious blood covers our misdeeds. What a wonderful God You are! Amen.
Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. James 1:15
When we’re dragged away by our own evil desires, sin is produced and it is sin which leads to death. This is a concept that goes all the way back to the fall of Adam – death entered through Adam’s sin and that came from his misdirected desires. Paul speaks of this type of problem in Romans 7. Does the following reflect you in your daily walk? –
“So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Romans 7:21-25
If you’re honest, it does. We all face this struggle and none of us are now or will be during our lives immune to it. Later in Romans 12, Paul gives us a recommendation of how to deal with our struggle with sin –
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Romans 12:1
Although the term “living sacrifice” seems like an oxymoron, and it very well may be to the unregenerate world, it should be a daily concept for us as we walk in the salvation we received through Jesus Christ our Lord. Thanks be to God indeed! It is through Him that we are free from the sting of sin and death!
Lord, your word is a mine of treasure for my life. As I follow it in obedience, I can see how it will change me to be the person You created me to be. And so, give me the wisdom to be a living sacrifice to You all my days. In response to Your majesty, let me say, “How great You are!” Amen.
Don't be deceived, my dear brothers. James 1:16
This sure is a short and straight verse and one not easily added to. But we’ll note that James is setting us up for a contrast of what was explained in the preceding few verses. With that in mind, we’ll think about those verses.
When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. (vs. 13-15)
“Don’t be deceived” then is reminding us that when temptation comes it may appear alluring, right, acceptable, or even useful at first. This is no different than the temptation at the fall –
"You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." Genesis 3:4, 5
This temptation – the way it was presented – surely made disobedience seem right, acceptable, and even useful; certainly it was alluring. However, it was a deception which led to agony and sorrow for God’s fallen children. This is how Satan works to this day. Think carefully about the things happening in your own life which seem so very right on a multitude of levels, but which you know are wrong. The end never justifies the means if it involves disobedience. Your deception will lead you to sadness and pain for yourself or others and a loss of fellowship with God. Because of God’s great love for the regenerate Christian, forgiveness has already been obtained, but the consequences of the action will follow through regardless. Be wary and do not be deceived, my dear brothers.
Yes Lord, Your divine hand of wisdom is needed in my life. The deceptions I face are often hard to discern and temptation is hard to avoid. But grant me a spirit of understanding and give me the ability to choose the exit rather than the open door entering in to disobedience. This prayer I make in the name of Your beloved Son, my Lord Jesus. Amen.
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17
James has been talking about evil desires and how they produce sin; sin in turn produces death. Now he abruptly changes his angle and says that it is the good and perfect gifts which come down from the Father of the heavenly lights. This was done to contrast the death which we have earned.
Paul also speaks of this in Romans 6:23 when he says “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Wages we earn; a gift is unearned. Death we deserve; eternal life is offered.
Today’s verse also says there is no “change” in God. This comes from the Greek word “parallage” and is a word used only once in the entire Bible. Our modern English word “parallax” stems from this word. If you hold your thumb out in front of you and close your left eye first and then your right eye, the position of your thumb will change slightly. This is a trigonometric parallax, or simply a parallax. The author seems to have chosen this word specifically for his audience to make it completely clear that there is no “shift” or “change” in God – even in the slightest.
A parallax will occur when a reference changes even minutely – such as in the atomic level. But in God there is simply no parallax at all. This is confirmed by several other verses of the Bible, such as Malachi 3:6 and Hebrews 13:8. This is also confirmed by philosophic considerations about God. As He created time, space, and matter He is outside of those things and they have no bearing on Him. Therefore, He must be One (monotheism).
If you sometimes have doubts or questions about your faith in the Christian God, don’t! The Bible absolutely confirms God’s nature; a nature we can determine from reason. You are on exactly the right path when you call on Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior – He is the image of the invisible God and our only path of restoration to our infinite, unchanging, and glorious Creator.
Lord God Almighty, You who alone are unchanging and beyond our ability to comprehend – thank You for every good and perfect gift in our lives. Thank You for our Lord Jesus Christ also. He who came to reveal You to us! May we never forget that He is the greatest expression of Your unfailing love for the fallen sons of Adam. In His name we pray. Amen.
He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created. James 1:18
James speaks here of being born again as is stated in John 3:3-6. Jesus didn’t make it optional; you must be born again in order to enter the kingdom of God. This doesn’t mean rolling around on the floor or speaking in odd tongues. Rather, it means being born from above; from a divine source.
If someone says, “I’m a Christian, but not ‘born again.’” Then he isn’t a Christian. The two are inseparable. We’re given birth through the “word of truth.” Jesus is the Word of God and it’s through faith in Him alone that we receive this new birth. There is no deed of the flesh that merits it; no goodness good enough to satisfy the debt we owe. Instead, the transfer is made in Jesus Christ. We accept His cross and He gives us His righteousness.
This is so simple that many fail to understand it. Paul calls it a “stumbling block” because of its simplicity. Don’t trip over it yourself, but rather accept by faith what Jesus has done. James then calls those who have been given this second birth “a kind of firstfruits of all he created.”
This symbolism goes back to the Old Testament. The Feast of Firstfruits or “Bikkurim” specifically points to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. According to Paul, –
“…Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” 1 Corinthians 15:20
Although we haven’t yet died and been resurrected, we even now share in the power of the resurrection by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit who seals us for the day of redemption. The Holy Spirit is a deposit of God’s faithfulness to us when we trust in Christ. As said above, if you aren’t born again, you’re not a Christian. Jesus was very clear in the way to eternal life, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6
Be certain of your eternal destiny; call on Jesus Christ today!
Thank You, O God, for Your sure word of truth that points us to the wonders Jesus has accomplished on our behalf. May we never take for granted the splendor of His work. Instead, help us to keep our eyes and our thoughts fixed on Him – to Your glory alone. Amen.
My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,… James 1:19
As has already been noted, James is the closest to a book of wisdom in the New Testament. This is because he uses ideas which permeate the wisdom literature and which are meant for general life guides as well as specific Christian life. In today’s verse he mentions three particular ways of conduct:
1) Be quick to listen – He who answers before listening— that is his folly and his shame. Proverbs 18:13
2) Be slow to speak – A fool's mouth is his undoing, and his lips are a snare to his soul. Proverbs 18:7
3) Be slow to become angry – Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools. Ecclesiastes 7:9
As you can see, each of these concepts has already been addressed in the Old Testament. Not only is this so, but each idea is brought up several times there. In order to properly understand God’s plan and purpose for our lives in its fullness, it really is necessary to dig into the entire Bible. If you find reading certain areas of the Bible difficult, then join studies with others who might have less trouble with those particular areas. Also, make sure the church you attend is willing to speak on any subject or book of the Bible. By doing so, you will be a much more rounded believer and also able to handle the trials which arise in life’s walk.
What a wonderfully intricate treasure Your word is, O Lord! Thank You today as always for the wise guidance and counsel You have provided in it. Help me to learn the lessons which it teaches and then apply them to my life; help me to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. This I pray in the precious name of Jesus. Amen.
for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. James 1:20
Yesterday’s verse, along with several proverbs, gave us insight into the subject of listening, speaking, and anger. Today finishes the thought and deals specifically with anger.
From time to time I hear a pastor say, “You have one mouth and two ears; therefore, you should listen twice as much as you speak.” It’s not a bad idea and will normally keep us from over-speaking and looking foolish. Generally, people who fail to listen and are quick to speak are also the type to burst into anger more readily. Maybe it’s because they want to control the situation with their words and when they can’t, the next step is to blow up in anger.
But James says (and which is painfully obvious to those around such a person) that this doesn’t bring about a righteous life. In fact, it normally demonstrates just the opposite.
When two people are debating an issue, the one who is calm and even normally (but not always) has the proper view on the matter. The one who is excited and verbally abusive simply doesn’t have a leg to stand on and therefore can only defend his position in this way. The language and actions belie any sense of righteousness or godly character.
If you’ve never seen this type of discourse close up, just turn on Fox News and watch two people debating a political issue – one will be from the left and one from the right. When one of them starts fidgeting, elevating his voice, making unwarranted accusations, and eventually becomes angry, that person is most likely attempting to defend an indefensible position and is also not living out a righteous life (at least in the moment) which God desires.
By watching people behave this way, we can learn what not to do – but be careful you don’t get yourself sucked in to the conversation and start yelling at your TV! When you engage in conversation, listen a lot, speak a little, and avoid ungodly anger. By doing so, you will demonstrate wisdom in your interactions.
Lord, You know what pushes my buttons and that which causes me to lose my cool. Give me wisdom when speaking that I might not sin against You with my mouth. Help me to have salt in my speech and a gentle attitude towards those I may not agree with. This I ask that You will be glorified. Amen.
Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. James 1:21
Remember that this was written two thousand years ago. Immorality is nothing new. However, due to TV, the internet, etc. it’s become a part of almost every living room in the world. We now no longer look with contempt upon someone who states “God dxxx it” or “Jesus Christ” on a television show or a movie. Instead of walking out and refusing to watch that actor again, we justify it in some way or another.
The Bible clearly portrays homosexuality as moral perversion, and yet we condone it by watching such people on talk shows, reality shows, etc. without even batting an eyelid. No Christian I know feels such people don’t have a personal right to exercise their desires – they individually must face their Creator. However they should be no more tolerated in public than any other perversion we would be opposed to.
Our lives are to be lived in holiness, not drunkenness; our speech should be season with grace, not obscenities; our close friendships should reflect our character – never shunning the lost, but never condoning what is biblically inappropriate.
As Christians, we all must face the judgment seat of Christ. How will your judgment go? Will it be one of sadness and loss or one of expectation of joy and reward? The lost will face their own judgment and condemnation unless they repent. We simply can’t lead them to Christ if we’re living like them or not drawing a line between what is acceptable and what isn’t. Keep the word close to you, learn it, live it and understand that moral filth and evil will be judged for what it is.
Lord, I fail You daily in the observance of today’s verse. I let you down in a thousand ways. May I be angry and sin and may the sun never set on that anger, lest my morals grow cold and You be disappointed in the conduct of my life. May I be a vessel holy and set apart for Your good purposes. To Your glory alone. Amen.
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. James 1:22
This was written at a time when people would have heard the word spoken, but there weren’t many copies of the Bible for personal use. So, when you read your Bible or daily devotional, keep this in verse in mind as it applies as well. However, we’ll stick with the example given – listening to the word.
When you go to church, the pastor speaks on a given subject that he’s studied and which is meant for you to listen to and then apply to your life. Many pastors add in real-life examples as they speak about the particular passage being analyzed. Many, many times I’ve thought, “This applies to exactly my situation today.” I’ve also heard plenty of other people say the same thing. I’ve also sat in church with people who really needed to hear a particular sermon because I know that it applies to a situation in their life. However, they’ll walk out of church having heard a word spoken directly to them, and then will continue down the same unhealthy path that they were on before going to church.
Surprisingly enough, you may even hear them comment on what a great sermon it was. It’s as if the message went in one ear and out the other, having no effect at all on their life. James is asking us to not allow this to happen. When you hear the word which specifically applies to you, it’s because the Lord is trying to wake you up! Don’t merely listen to the word and so deceive yourself…do what it says!
Pay attention to your devotional each morning as it may be speaking to you. Pay attention to your morning Bible reading as it may be speaking to you. God sends His word out for your benefit. Pay attention to His word!
Lord God, I can only thank You for the times You prompt me to action through Your word – spoken or read. Give me wisdom and a discerning heart to apply the instruction to my life. Let me not simply deceive myself by hearing only, but let there be positive growth in me. All this is to Your glory alone. Amen.
For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. James 1:23, 24
Today we need to analyze two verses together in order to get the full sense of what James is saying. He equates a person who hears the spoken word (or as I said yesterday, reads it) and then disregards what it says to a person who gets up in the morning, looks at the shabby face in the mirror – unshaven, stuff in his eyes, hair all messy, etc. – and then walks away not caring about his appearance. The Bible is like a mirror to us. It gives us common sense life lessons and warnings that are meant to guide us. Take this proverb as an example –
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1
Someone who reads this verse, contemplates it, and then lives by it will certainly benefit from the counsel. No matter how correct your argument is, if you present it harshly, you will only stir up anger and chase people away from your view. If you’re the type who has trouble dealing calmly with others, applying this proverb to your life can only benefit you. But by rejecting it, you’re just like the disheveled person mentioned above. You should know your appearance will offend others, but instead of shaving your whiskers, combing your hair, and washing your face you go out as you are and no one wants to be near you. Then you wonder why you’re such a lonely guy. Look into the Bible, absorb it, and then apply it to your life. Don’t be the person James uses for this negative example. Instead, be the person whom Jesus exalts because of their faithful application of sound biblical advice. In the end, you’ll benefit more than you can possibly imagine.
Heavenly Father, let me be wise when listening to sermons, reading your word, or contemplating daily devotionals. Help me to apply these valuable insights to my own life, rather than walking away and forgetting what I’ve read. In the end, I know I’ll be the one to suffer if I don’t. So prompt me now to be a responsible and faithful follower. Amen.
But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does. James 1:25
Remember the guy who looked at his grubby face in the mirror and walked away not caring? He’s a picture of the person who hears the word of God and doesn’t care enough to apply it to his life. Today contrasts that person with someone who has true wisdom. This person “looks intently” into the Bible; he listens closely to the Sunday sermon; he checks what he’s been told and then applies it to his life. As Solomon said –
The words of the wise are like goads, their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails—given by one Shepherd. Ecclesiastes 12:11
Goads are pointed sticks used to prod a cow along. The Bible should be like that to us. It should prod us in the right direction and toward our goal. When we look into the “perfect law” and then follow what we’ve read, it gives us a freedom we previously lacked. The Bible isn’t a rule book of things not to do; it’s a guide for our souls. Not only should we follow its precepts, but we should continue to follow them, daily, as we continue on life’s highway. By doing so we’ll certainly be blessed in all we do. This doesn’t mean we will be free from troubles and trials, but unlike those whose trials never find a happy resolution, ours will. The Lord will restore all that is lost, heal all that is torn, and raise all who have died in Him.
How precious are Your words to my taste; Sweeter than honey to my mouth! O God, help me to learn and then to apply them to my life. And Lord, help me to continue in them all my days that I will grow to maturity in You. I love you and praise You my exalted King! Amen.
If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. James 1:26
James is going to give examples of what he’s thinking concerning this verse in the chapters ahead, but even without them we should be able to understand quite clearly that our words reflect our character. If we can’t keep a rein on our tongues, then no one, including the Lord, will see us as anything other than irreligious.
A good example comes from some years ago when a person I worked with attended a Baptist church. However, throughout the week he perpetually cursed and in particular used the Lord’s name inappropriately. Whatever he was doing in church wasn’t transferring to his life and everyone around him could see that. Not only is cursing a sign of weak faith (or no faith at all), but someone who rambles on continuously is regarded as a fool in Scripture –
When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise. Proverbs 10:19
Such is the case in almost every instance of someone who speaks too much. Eventually they run out of truths to tell and so they keep on speaking with falsehoods. Their words are meaningless because they have no truth or substance behind them. Solomon gives the cure –
Much dreaming and many words are meaningless. Therefore stand in awe of God. Ecclesiastes 5:7
Instead of dreaming about being religious, act and speak as one who really is. Have control over your tongue and stand in awe of God. When you speak, let your words reflect both love and respect for Him. By doing so, they will also reflect love and respect for those around you.
Lord Jesus, how often I fail to keep my tongue in check. As Your servant, give me wisdom when I speak and let my words be carefully selected to be truthful, uplifting, and above all – glorifying of You. Help me to be the one people can come to when they want to hear only words of truth. In Your precious name I pray. Amen.
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:27
Rather than yesterday’s verse about the person who can’t restrain his tongue, today we read about a faithful Christian. This is referring to a person who has called on Jesus; not everyone in general. Bill Gates, for example, has donated billions of dollars to the AIDS funds as well as other notable causes. However, one cannot buy their way into heaven and no deed is, in itself, good enough to please the Lord. This verse cannot be taken out of the Christian context and applied to non-believers.
Faithful Christians will be known for what they do, not for what they claim to have done. This goes all the way back to Acts 5 where a couple named Ananias and Sapphira claimed to have accomplished a righteous deed, but hid the fact that what they claimed didn’t match what actually happened. As an example for later Christians, they were both “called home” for their wicked act. There is no reason to believe they weren’t part of the faithful believers, but their action was unacceptable.
When we care for orphans and widows, or when we do any other righteous deeds, we need to give the Lord the credit and not try to overstate what we accomplished on His behalf. In addition to this, we need to keep ourselves “from being polluted by the world.” There are great disputes over what this means and many congregations set rules based on it. This leads to legalism and a stuffy church. Instead, we need to maintain our Christian morals wherever we are and in whatever we’re engaged in.
We have freedom in Christ to live in this world, just not freedom to sin while being here. When we do, we bring dishonor on the One who freed us from the power of sin. In essence, we’re acting contradictory to the very message of freedom He sent to us.
Lord Jesus, it’s hard to do good deeds in secret. You know our desires to be noticed, so give us a supernatural ability to overcome these feelings and to work to Your glory alone. Help our religion to be undefiled and free from the stain of sin. Give us the desire to help those who are truly in need while providing You with the credit. Amen.
My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don't show favoritism. James 2:1
James has some examples coming with today’s verse and we’ll get to those in the days ahead. Because he does, it’s obviously something that’s important to him in the Christian life. We all need to be careful of this – the world’s eyes are watching as are our fellow believers. Anytime we show favoritism we’re failing to live as Christ did.
The Bible says that “all have sinned and all fall short of the glory of God.” It goes on to say “but while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” There was no favoritism at all in this – Christ died for all. He made the example for us to follow. We’re not to worry about those who reject Him because it’s His right to avenge; they will receive their due penalty from His hand.
We, however, should attempt to never show favoritism when evangelizing, in church settings, or at any other time. Regardless of race, color, level of wealth, etc. we need to be about the same business with all. Pastors need to be careful of favoritism which leads to church division. Parents need to be careful of it or they’ll have one spoiled child and one angry child.
This list goes on – work partners, choosing friends, etc. The less favoritism we show, the better off we’ll be among others and the less bad words and strife will be directed toward us.
One other note on today’s verse – isn’t it wonderful how James titles Jesus – “our glorious Lord.” How wonderful it would be if all of those who claim Jesus as Lord were so devoted to Him! Let’s remember to give Him all the praise and adoration He deserves!
Here I am, convicted by today’s verse. Lord, help me to not show favoritism. Instead, give me the willing heart to accept all people as You do – giving Your life on the cross for them despite their situation, level of wealth, looks, or race. Help me to love all equally as I work towards leading them to You. How glorious you are! Amen.
Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. James 2:2
James is going to continue discussing this over the next few verses, but the question stands alone for each of you. What would you do if you faced this situation?
Let’s add to it and ask, “What if the man in fine clothes smelled heavenly because of some great aromatic oil like patchouli and the poor man in shabby clothes smelled worse than a cow stall in summer? How would you react if they both came to a Bible study in your living room? Pastors have to face this from time to time and they have been known to fail… money is a great enticement.
People in the congregation are no different, we gravitate toward those whom we can benefit from or whom we don’t find repulsive. However, the biblical model is that we should treat all equally and not respect one over another based on wealth.
It’s the wealthy that look down on others who they feel are less worthy; it’s the wealthy that look down on those who drive cheaper cars; it’s the wealthy that look down on those who live in a different and less affluent neighborhood. And yet we gravitate towards them because we feel we can somehow improve our status by being around them.
The same is true of any movie star or radio personality. Despite having glamour and wealth, they are the most mixed up and insecure people around; having drug, alcohol, and family problems in abundance.
Instead of judging by appearance, we need to evaluate others based on who they are as individuals. In particular we should look at their potential in Jesus Christ. If we do this, then the externals will fade away and the true beauty or ugliness will be evident.
Lord Jesus, give me the heart to deal fairly with others despite their external appearance or social status. May I not show preference to anyone because I can benefit from them, but let me deal with all men according to the wise principles I learn from Your word. This I ask that You will be pleased with my heart and with all my relationships. Amen.
If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, "Here's a good seat for you," but say to the poor man, "You stand there" or "Sit on the floor by my feet," have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? James 2:3, 4
James packed a lot into this long idea and so we have to take verses 3 and 4 together today as they’re one thought. What he’s saying is obvious and goes back to verses 1 and 2 about showing favoritism. It’s so easy to accept the person wearing nice clothes and it can even be tempting to do so if we can benefit from him somehow.
In turn, the better chair is taken and now the poor person has nowhere to sit. Now he has two choices, 1) stand while others are sitting, or 2) sit at your feet.
If you understand the context of the times, the first option – despite being uncomfortable – is far superior to the second. The reason for this is that sitting at another person’s feet is a sign of subjugation. As it says in the 110th Psalm –
The LORD says to my Lord: "Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet."
By telling the poor man to “sit by my feet” it’s showing that you feel better than him and that he is subordinate to you. How often we do this to others in many subtle ways! And yet we’re told that by doing this, we become judges with evil thoughts.
Be careful how you look on others and accept them as God’s image-bearers regardless of their status according to the world. Instead of degrading others, let us ever exalt the Lord –
“Let us go to his dwelling place; let us worship at his footstool…” Psalm 132:7
Lord Jesus, again I feel the conviction of having shown preference to others based on their position and dress. Give me the ability to see others as you see them; looking on the heart and beauty of the inner-man rather than the externals, which are so fading. May You be pleased with how I treat my fellow men. Amen.
Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? James 2:5
This is one of the wonders of God’s workings in humanity. All people are separated from God because of their sins. This is just the way it is. But God sent His Son to reconcile us to Him. In order to receive this, we need to acknowledge that we can’t save ourselves and that we’re totally dependent on His mercy through Jesus Christ.
The problem is that those who are rich naturally feel secure and also competent to handle all of life’s problems, including reconciliation with God. This leads to smugness about God and a careless attitude towards salvation – “I’ve got it all under control.”
In a similar fashion, people tend to feel that God will look on them differently than the next guy who has such obvious faults. But God doesn’t grade on a curve and salvation isn’t human originated. The poor will understand this. If the world looks down on them and their lowly position, then how much more God!
And so it is that the poor, the weak, the lowly, and the broken are those who come to Jesus in faith, completely empty handed. “O God, is there room for me?” It’s when one comes to God through Jesus in this manner that God is exalted.
When someone arrives with a list of their great accomplishments, wealth, or fame then God receives no glory – and they receive neither mercy nor salvation. God longs to look on the lost sinner and lavish His grace upon them, if they will only drop every pretense that blocks the way.
Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him! Isaiah 30:18
Thank You Lord Jesus, for looking down on even me, a sinful soul, and granting me Your salvation through the work You accomplished. May I never boast in anything but the cross You bore. This I ask that You alone will be exalted for Your great and mighty deliverance, wrought on my behalf. Amen.
But you have insulted the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? James 2:6
Even though it’s the meek, the lowly, the humble, and the poor who will inherit the kingdom these are the very same people we insult by our inappropriate judgments. We look down on others who have less than us and exalt those who have more than us.
But James says that the very people we look up to are the ones who are fighting against us as we live our lives. They drag neighbors into court when their house doesn’t look as good as they expect; they drag others into court to keep them from having a certain possession (such as an RV) on their property; they drag others into court to keep them from having the same benefits and privileges they themselves hold precious (think of Al Gore’s hypocritical stand on energy consump-tion.) These and a zillion other examples are the standard for those who feel they are above those around them.
The opposite is usually true of the poor. They will normally open their door for others, remain non-judgmental about things they disagree on, and generally live life in more contentment than the wealthy who simply strive to become more wealthy and more “superior” to those around them.
Nothing has changed in these 2000 years since James wrote this and it’s a warning to each of us every day. We need to keep away from insulting the poor and exalting the rich simply because of their station in life.
Heavenly Father, help me to see each man for his inner qualities and not his external riches. May I be a fair judge of those around me that I might not sin against you. Help my heart to not show favoritism or partiality towards those I can benefit from. All of this I ask in the name of the One who looked with favor upon even me, Jesus my Lord. Amen.
Are they not the ones who are slandering the noble name of him to whom you belong? James 2:7
James asks another rhetorical question. It’s the wealthy, famous, and powerful who tend to slander the noble name of Jesus. We need not look at what they say, but to what they do. A person’s actions will often belie their words. When someone has a great deal of money, their actions will usually reflect this; they’ve come to rely on their wealth and not on the Lord for their own future.
The famous normally become so out of touch with reality that they begin to think of themselves as mini gods. This will happen because people follow them around and throw themselves at them without a second thought. They’re sought out for perceived wisdom even if they lack any true common sense or deep intelligence at all. The powerful, having control over more than most, will also develop deep feelings of over-worth.
Look at the vast majority of those in power in Washington today. Their actions and votes indicate high arrogance; voting contrary to what is right in order to further their own petty goals.
Anyone who would actively support the murder of unborn children and call it good brings slander upon the name of the Creator. Those who attempt to control the free exercise of speech or faith likewise discredit the name of God. This is because it is the Christian’s duty to spread the gospel in each and every possible circumstance.
When that right is hindered in any way, it slanders the name of the Lord because it was He who ordained that His message go forth. Don’t look at the lesser issues or actions of those you admire. Instead, look at their treatment of the name and gospel of Jesus Christ. This is how you gauge the true person.
Heavenly Father, please give me a discerning eye to see the true person and not to look at superficial matters that can distract my attention. Help me never to show favoritism because of wealth, power, or position. Instead, keep my eyes focused on one’s admiration and exaltation of You as the true measure of the person. Amen.
If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. James 2:8
James is quoting Leviticus 19:18 today. This is a book that few people read and a verse that’s found in the middle of many other laws and rules.
Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.
And yet, James calls it the “royal law.” Why has he done this? He did it because, as many know, Jesus exalted it to a pre-eminent position. When questioned by an expert in the law concerning which was the greatest commandment, we read –
Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." Matthew 22:37-40
Because James is dealing with treating others fairly as a sign of true Christian devotion, he repeats Jesus’ words. If “all the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” then we need to be extremely careful how we treat others – particularly in matters of judgment about their suitability in our lives. If Christ has accepted them, how much more should we.
One thing is for sure, O Lord, I don’t want to fight against You. So open my heart to be accepting of my neighbor and love him, even as I love myself. And Lord, give me the ability to put You first in my life every moment of every day; loving you with all my heart, soul, and mind. I know things will be in the proper perspective if I follow these holy guides. Amen.
But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. James 2:9
Remember the context, James has been talking about showing favoritism and then equated it with the “royal law” which says “Love your neighbor as yourself.” By showing favoritism, we’re violating one precept of God’s highest law. Jesus Himself said that all the law and the prophets (the entire Old Testament) hang on our loving God with all our being and loving our neighbor’s just as we would love ourselves. The good news is that although we all have fallen short of this, Jesus didn’t. As He said –
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” Matthew 5:17
Make sure you get what Jesus is saying right – He was being accused of violating the very law He came to fulfill. Instead, He fulfilled it. This was done on our behalf and is the reason that we are not under the law. The law was not made obsolete by Jesus’ inactions; it was made obsolete by His actions.
This still doesn’t excuse us when we show favoritism, but it allows forgiveness because we do. It should be our aim to live a life of honoring God and loving our neighbor, but when we fall short, there is mercy and forgiveness in the blood of Christ.
Today’s verse should convict every soul on earth that they have fallen short of God’s glory and are in need of an advocate. There is one! His name is Jesus and He shows no favoritism. He is willing to forgive all who call on His name. Take time today to tell someone else about His wonderful gift.
Thank You so very much, O God, for Jesus! Though I’ve shown favoritism a thousand times and failed to love my neighbor as myself again and again, I know there is power in the wonder working life of my Lord and Savior! Where I failed, He prevailed. And so to Him belongs my heart and my joy! Thank You, O God, for Jesus! Amen.
For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. James 2:10
When witnessing to others, this is one of the best verses to make a logical defense for their need for Jesus. Another verse which is often used is –
“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23
However, many will dismiss this without deeper thought unless further explanation is given. In order to make this sink in, ask them a direct question such as, “Have you ever told a lie?” Only a liar would say “no.” Almost everyone will say, “Yes, of course I have.” Once they admit this, you can introduce today’s verse. “Well, the Bible says if you stumble at just one point you’re guilty of breaking the whole law.”
When someone hears this, it allows them a definite point to consider. Re-explaining the verse in another way will usually solidify your point. “The 10 Commandments are called ‘the Law’ because they’re a unified whole. If you break any part of ‘the Law’ you’ve broken the whole law.”
This is the point when most people begin to understand their separation from God. It doesn’t matter if you’ve lied, murdered, been disobedient to your parents, or bowed down to an idol – any infraction breaks the whole law.
Take time to memorize today’s verse and how you can weave it into a proper application of a gospel presentation. It truly can be a turning point in someone’s life, so think on it, use it, and then explain the great mercy of God who would forgive such a violation because of His great love for His people.
Thank you for verses such as today’s verse, O God. Understanding how far we truly have fallen because of even one infraction of the law helps me to understand how immense is Your mercy towards me, one who has violated Your law so many times. Thank You for the gift of Your Son Jesus who reconciles me to You. Amen.
For he who said, "Do not commit adultery," also said, "Do not murder." If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker. James 2:11
Yesterday James told us that “whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.” Today he gives us a practical understanding of what he means by citing the 6th and 7th commandments. If you don’t commit adultery, but do commit murder, you’ve broken the entire Law, which are the 10 Commandments. It doesn’t matter that you didn’t commit adultery; the contract is violated.
As Leviticus says, “Keep my decrees and laws, for the man who obeys them will live by them.” Why would James pick such a seemingly harsh commandment, such as not committing murder, to be the standard he uses? Most people have obviously never committed murder. They’d be aghast at even the thought of it. But in reality, we’re all guilty of this sin. According to God’s standard which Jesus revealed to us it says –
You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.' But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Matthew 5:21, 22
You see, God looks at the intent of our hearts. None of us have gone without hating another. Likewise, most of us have looked at another in lust and are guilty of adultery. All of this shows sin for what it is – utterly sinful. It also shows us our great need for Jesus’ perfect righteousness. Without His shed blood, we are utterly condemned, not just by our actions, but by our intent. O God! Thank You for Jesus.
Lord, I’ve fallen so very short of Your perfection. My thoughts are filled with that which is wrong and my heart has been intent on evil. Forgive me of my faults – not because I deserve it, but because of Jesus, my only Hope; my Savior. I place myself completely in His hands and accept what He did for me. Thank You, O God, for my Lord Jesus. Amen.
Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, James 2:12
Be careful when reading today’s verse and the one for tomorrow. Understand now that if you have accepted Jesus Christ, you have already been forgiven –
I write to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name. 1 John 2:12
Forgiveness in the New Testament economy is a done deal from the moment you’ve accepted Jesus Christ. Every sin you’ve ever committed was forgiven; every sin you will yet commit is forgiven. You cannot lose your salvation. However, your judgment will be based on rewards for your faithfulness as a believer.
The law of Christ gives freedom from sin and condemnation, but it doesn’t give freedom for sin and licentiousness. It’s most important to keep things in their proper perspective and this is what James is trying to do for us here.
Saved believers will stand at the judgment seat of Christ to receive rewards based on the life we live in Him. Because of this, we should “speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom.”
And how can we do anything else! Jesus gave His own life for us so shouldn’t we do our utmost to bring Him the honor and glory He deserves? Live for Him today, tomorrow, and always!
Lord Jesus, give me the ability to be merciful to others, just as you have been to me! If you’ve forgiven all of my life’s transgressions, then I need to remember that others deserve the same. Remind me that when they repent and ask for forgiveness, I need to show the same mercy I’ve been shown. Thank You Lord for Your goodness to me! Amen.
because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment! James 2:13
In the preceding verse we were told to “speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom” and today we’re told why.
James indicates that mercy is a powerful tool for good in our lives and for our eternal destiny. A good way to remember the meaning of mercy is to remember it along with the meaning of grace.
Mercy is not getting what you do deserve; grace is getting what you don’t deserve. James tells us that mercy actually triumphs over judgment. Jesus gives a parable which demonstrates this to us in Matthew 18 –
"Then the master called the servant in. 'You wicked servant,' he said, 'I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?' In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. "This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart." Vs. 32-35
Take time to read the entire parable today and see how this confirms today’s verse. However, remember to take the entire subject of forgiveness in context. When we receive Jesus as our Lord and Savior, all our sins are forgiven. Therefore, in the context of the Christian’s life, being unmerciful will result in loss of rewards, not condemnation. Either way, being merciful will keep us from a greater judgment because we’re acting as our Heavenly Father does when we stray.
Lord Jesus, it’s not always easy to be merciful, but it reflects Your divine character when we are. Because of this, I ask that You grant me the ability to be more merciful to others that I might be pleasing to You. May Your words sink in to my life and become my very nature – to Your glory! Amen.
What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? James 2:14
James is now going to discuss several verses on faith verses deeds. How these verses are interpreted sets the stage for how you believe your salvation is accomplished and completed in Jesus Christ. Also, these verses in particular provide a dividing line between Roman Catholicism and Protestant theology.
Did Jesus accomplish everything on our behalf, or do we need to “participate” in our justification before the Lord. The Roman Catholic Council of Trent in 1546 put their side firmly in writing. Here is one of the applicable canons –
Canon 24: "If any one saith, that the justice received is not preserved and also increased before God through good works; but that the said works are merely the fruits and signs of Justification obtained, but not a cause of the increase thereof; let him be anathema."
Roman Catholicism states that we can only preserve our faith by deeds; that Jesus’ work was insufficient in and of itself to justify us and maintain our justification.
Protestants hold to Pauline doctrine which states that man is justified by faith in Christ alone. We will continue to analyze the verses to come, but at verse 24, I will submit a much longer commentary than usual and it will probably not be in line with anything you’ve read in the past – either from Roman or Protestant sources, but we must let the Bible interpret the Bible.
So today, the question remains – if a man has no deeds, can such faith save him?
Heavenly Father, give us wisdom in discerning the truth of the passages we are going to review, today and for the next few days. May our doctrine be pure and may our hearts be in tune with living out the truth of Your word - this to Your honor and glory and to the saving of our souls. Amen.
Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. James 2:15
James is making a logical defense for accomplishing deeds. Remember the context as he previously asked this question –
What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him?
He now goes into the first part of his defense for accomplishing deeds as part of saving faith. Remember, this is critically important for you to read, think on, and decide what is right concerning this matter.
As stated yesterday, Roman Catholicism states that deeds are essential in receiving and in increasing justification. Protestant theology says they aren’t and that man is saved by faith alone in the finished work of Christ. Only one can be true.
The Roman stand is that anyone who even claims the Protestant view is anathema – meaning condemned before God. This is of such critical importance that salvation depends on getting this right. Either people are saved by the Roman view of Jesus’ work which is coupled with our own efforts and everyone else is condemned, or people are saved by the view that Jesus’ work was all-sufficient and that works are not included in justification.
Is Roman theology is heretical and self-condemning or is it that of Protestant Theology?
For today though, think on your fellow man who is destitute. Regardless of deeds-for-salvation, shouldn’t we consider their plight simply because they are also God’s image-bearers? Let’s not lose sight of the trees for the forest.
Jesus, let me not worry nearly as much about whether deeds will get me to heaven, but let me consider the earthly plight of my destitute brothers and sisters. Give me a willing heart to love them and assist them as needed that You will be glorified through the works I accomplish in Your name. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? James 2:16
Deeds, doing good deeds for the name and for the cause of Christ – this is what James is speaking of today. How many times do we see a friend in need and feel sorry for him, but don’t really do anything to help him? “Gee, I’m so sorry about that Tom…”
Often we feel helpless simply because the problem is something to big for us to handle or out of our area of expertise. Or maybe we’re just too busy to get involved. For whatever reason, we tell Tom – “I wish you well…” If our words aren’t backed up with something more solid, they really mean nothing.
Quite often, something more solid can simply be spending time with the person. A lot of the pain of difficult times is the isolation during them. If a friend is sick, getting divorced, financially ruined, etc. then it’s true, we may not be able to help them with the main problem. But we may be able to lend an ear when they need to talk, or take them out – away from their pains for awhile – to dinner or a movie. What is seemingly unhelpful may be a great value to the person.
In today’s verse, the matter is something we could help with – a friend or stranger who is cold and hungry can easily be given something warm and some food. Wishing them well and spending a few minutes with them really doesn’t help them at all. What they need is a Big Mac and a blanket.
If you’ve never helped out at a homeless shelter or an inner-city mission, I bet you’d find it a blessing to you as much or more than the people who you’ve helped. Make an effort to help in whatever capacity is relevant to the situation. People don’t normally forget kindness and the Lord certainly remembers every good act done in His name.
Lord, give me a heart to help the helpless; give me a desire to assist the needy; give me the ability to carry through with those intentions; and give me the understanding that You are the one to receive the compliments when the deed is done. Let me be an instrument of Your love to the one who is suffering. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. James 2:17
Other than to hang a door, a doornail is pretty much useless. And so it is with faith that isn’t exercised and accompanied by action. James is going to give a biblical example of a faith-based deed in a few days and then utter a statement which has brought about argument and theological finger-pointing for eons. Until we get there, let’s just think about what it means to be saved and how we can know if we are. Paul says in Romans 10:9 –
That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
Either this is true or its not. He then goes on to say, “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,…” Ephesians 1:13
Again, if we’re saved by the expression of faith in Romans 10:9 and immediately marked with God’s Holy Spirit as indicated in Ephesians 1:13, then how can our faith be dead? Even our faith is an act of the Holy Spirit as is noted elsewhere in Ephesians. So what actions are necessary to ensure our faith is alive? Think on these things and understand that there is a satisfactory answer to them if we simply think on faith from a biblical perspective.
Heavenly Father, I once lacked saving faith, but O! how sweet was the day I received it from You. May I never forget the glorious moment You brought my soul to life and I reached out and accepted what You offered – peace through Your precious Son, my Lord and Savior! Amen.
But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds." Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. James 2:18
Today we see James working towards a goal in his thought process. He’s coming to the conclusion that faith has an important part in our walk as Christians, but that deeds do as well. He still hasn’t indicated what deeds, other than to speak in the general terms of the previous verses.
In the coming days, he’ll use several great figures from the Bible to establish a baseline of what deeds are acceptable for justification. I hope you’ll think on these people and even do a quick personal study on them and where they’re mentioned in the Scriptures before we look at what James is saying.
Also, please think on the state of non-believers who do nifty deeds for others; contemplate how they fit into the picture of Jesus’ salvation. If deeds could increase our standing before God, can their deeds be credited for righteousness even though they don’t have faith in Jesus? I’d hope you’d realize now that they obviously can’t (Romans 4:2), but it’s important to think on their acts in comparison to those of Christians.
James stands and quotes someone who says “You have faith; I have deeds.” He then agrees with that person saying that he will show his faith by what he does. Can I do super things after becoming a Christian to increase my justification before God?
Paul says that we will all “stand before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” 2 Corinthians 5:10.
This isn’t a judgment of justification. Instead it is a judgment for rewards and losses. Think again on verse 14 – “Can such faith save him?” Or do our deeds save us in conjunction with our faith? What deeds are you doing since you became a Christian? Are you doing them for your own glory or that of Christ?
Heavenly Father, I want to be pleasing to You without pretense or for self-serving reasons. May my actions be a testimony to the salvation that Jesus worked out on my behalf and may I not suppose that I am increasing my position in You above what He did, but let me trust in Him alone for my standing as Your servant. Amen.
You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder. James 2:19
James seems to be pointing a finger at people who claimed their faith was strong because they believed in one God. They probably made this claim and boasted that what they believed was sufficient in and of itself. In the coming verses, he will contrast someone who believes in one God in a general way with someone who exercised that belief in a faithful way.
Most rational people will believe there is one God, regardless of how they exercise that faith, so James is saying that this is nothing special. In fact, even the demons believe this… and shudder. Why? Because they believe in God from first-hand knowledge! Their belief is more than general faith and that knowledge tells them they will receive their sentence in due time.
How many times have you heard someone say, “I believe in God” and then watch them live lives of ungodliness? This is irrational because someone who believes in God and lives that way hasn’t thought the whole thing through like the demons have – judgment awaits and yet they continue on their reckless path. This is what James is talking about.
Misdirected faith is wasted faith. If you’re a Jehovah’s Witness, a Mormon, etc. then you obviously believe in God. However, your faith is misdirected and therefore useless. God isn’t contradictory and His word isn’t to be manipulated. Rather, it is to be revered and believed as written. You believe that there is one God. Good! Don’t waste your faith in Him then. Exercise it appropriately unto salvation and proper deeds.
O God, I know that You exist and that You are One – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – the eternal Godhead! Give me wisdom in Your ways, faith that isn’t dead, and deeds that will satisfy You. May my life be an example to others of a faithful Christian who honors You in all ways. Amen.
You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? James 2:20
Jesus said, “But anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell.” So using the term “fool” or “foolish” needs to have justification or they are words which can carry a heavy weight. Fortunately, the Bible already tells us who a fool is:
The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” Psalm 14:1
Therefore, one valid definition of a fool is a person lacking faith in the existence of God. A person claiming to have faith and yet lacking the proper deeds of faith is therefore foolish. Keep this in mind because it bears on the examples the author is going to give and how we can know what deeds are relevant to saving faith. One reason this is so important is that anyone can claim any deeds are necessary fruits of a converted person. Then, if someone else doesn’t do what they determine are necessary, finger pointing and accusation results – “He can’t be a Christian because….”
This is exactly what happens in churches and denominations all over the world. All because people set their own standards of “deeds of righteousness” rather than looking to the Bible to determine proper deeds which result from saving faith. We will determine what they are in the days ahead. Sure we will…. Have faith!
Lord Jesus, regardless of what I do, I know that You have accepted me. I know this because I called on Your name in faith and because You sealed me with Your glorious Holy Spirit at that moment – that sweetest moment of my life. May my deeds now reflect this, all the days of my life. Amen.
Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? James 2:21
Today James remembers the great test of faith of the Hebrew people – that of Father Abraham offering up his son Isaac on Mount Moriah. The account is in Genesis 22 and is well worth you taking the time to read it today. It bears heavily on what James is relating concerning faith vs. deeds.
In fact, it is the very same account used by Paul as well. Both of them are speaking of righteousness and how it was obtained during the life of Abraham.
Hebrews 11 speaks of this account too. Because of this, it must be incredibly important and a matter that we need to consider carefully. Take time to read Genesis 22 and also Romans 4 and Galatians 3. If you can understand these areas of the Bible, and also the account as mentioned in Hebrews 11, then you can fully understand what is being related by James concerning deeds versus faith. Read together, these passages will take you about 15 minutes to finish but they contain a lifetime of wealth for us to remember.
They also, when misinterpreted, have led entire denominations to make faulty analysis of what James must be saying. No matter what you come up with in your reading, please take the time today to read these accounts and think on them.
In the end, the account of Abraham and Isaac foreshadows the Person and work of Jesus. He, the only begotten Son of the Father, climbed this same hill, with his own wood (the cross) on His back, and His Father allowed the sacrifice to continue. Because of what Jesus did, we are now reconciled to God the Father.
It is faith in this action and faith alone which justifies us in the sight of God. Don’t be distressed at any foe that comes against you – Jesus is on your side and God the Father has approved of you because of faith in what His Son did. Be at peace!
Thank You Heavenly Father for the Gift of Your Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Thank You that He bore my sin and wrath on the cross so that I am now reconciled to You through His precious blood. I know I can add nothing to this great work, but I need to accept it by faith alone. Praises, honor, and majesty belong to You alone! Amen.
You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. James 2:22
James says that Abraham’s actions were working together with his faith. These two together made his faith complete. So what he is saying in this verse is that deeds complete our faith. The problem will come up with what he says in verse 24 concerning this working of faith and deeds. This is why such a careful examination of these verses has been necessary.
Roman Catholicism claims that deeds of righteousness increase our standing before God and assist in our justification. Protestant theologians say they have no merit but only prove salvation. Paul, however, says we are justified by faith alone and that this occurred in Abraham’s case long before the time of Isaac. Therefore, the justification is by faith alone.
Was Abraham’s deed of sacrifice meritorious in and of itself? Or was the action pointing to something else that we haven’t yet analyzed? If you studied the passage from Hebrews 11 which deals with Abraham, then you may have an inkling of what was really involved in Abraham’s deed – and which resolves the matter without adding in something that isn’t in the text – as both the Roman and Protestant views do.
No matter what the resolution is for now though, what’s important is that Abraham did what he was called to do. You also have a divine calling on your life – one to be holy, to honor the Lord, and to care for others in selfless ways. This calling, along with telling others about Jesus’ wonderful salvation, is something you should be pursuing all the time. Have faith that the Lord will be with you as you do!
O God, how precious is the study of Your word! It’s so wonderful to look into these matters and know that you have provided all we need to know to live in a holy and Christ-honoring manner. In all ways, may my life reflect Your plan and purpose…to the praise of Your glorious grace. Amen.
And the scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness," and he was called God's friend. James 2:23
The result of Abraham offering up his son is mentioned today and seems to indicate that it was this deed which brought about God’s pronouncement of righteousness. We can infer this when James says (…and the scripture was fulfilled).
Previously, verse 21 gave the outlines of what he did, verse 22 said that this deed was working together with his faith and was made complete in what he did. Then today James quotes the same famous passage that Paul quotes in Romans 4 and Galatians 3.
So... it’s what Abraham did that brought him righteousness and not his faith alone? Is that right? The answer may surprise you. For you to consider today – the quote “Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness” comes from Genesis 15. This was 7 chapters and many long years before the account of the sacrifice of Isaac in Genesis 22.
Therefore, the crediting of righteousness can have nothing to do with what Abraham did at Mount Moriah. Abraham simply looked up at the stars, believed God’s promise, and was credited as righteous. Was the deed then something that “naturally stems” from saving faith? Was it something that “added to” his righteousness? Or was it a deed of faith because Abraham was a man of faith – already declared righteous because of his faith?
Think on this and tomorrow’s long analysis will tell you what the Bible says about the matter. Until then, know that if you’re facing a trial or hardship, God has ordained it for you according to His great wisdom and for your benefit. Be at peace that whatever you’re facing, He is there with you – because of what Jesus did on your behalf.
Lord God, I am facing difficulties and trials that I wish I didn’t have to face, but I know Your promises to me stand and that all things are working together for my good because of Your love for me in Christ Jesus . Give me the strength to face every test and every trial just as you did for Abraham, our great father of faith. Amen.
You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone. James 2:24
Today’s note is a lot longer than normal, but I hope you’ll think on what is being presented here.
How is a person justified before God?
Concerning justification, Paul states, “For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law.” Romans 3:28
He tells us that, absolutely, our faith alone in what Jesus has done justifies us, apart from the law. However, what James wrote seems, on the surface, to conflict with Paul’s idea of “faith alone” for justification:
“You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.” James 2;24
What is it that “he does” then that justifies a person? Either there’s a contradiction or James is speaking on an entirely different level concerning the same matter. Paul is very clear in what he means and repeats his stand of faith alone elsewhere. He makes the same exact claim four more times his epistles, Romans 5:1, Galatians 2:16, Galatians 3:11, and Galatians 3:24. These verses and their surrounding thoughts clearly point to justification (being declared righteous) by faith alone. In addition to this, his letters allude to this concept many other times.
Biblical commentaries will state that good works stem necessarily from salvation because of “true faith.” In other words, if you have true faith, you will naturally do “good works.” Therefore, the claim is that James is referring to good works as the “fruit” of justification or “proof of faith.” In fact, many people judge another’s salvation based on the works they do; the claim is that if there are no works, there is no saving faith. This is shallow at best and fails to recognize two things:
1) That non-Christians – all over the world – are actively doing “good works.” Many times these are equal to or better than those of saved Christians. Even self-proclaimed “atheists” go out and do good stuff for other people. Such works simply can’t be what justifies us or “prove” our justification, in any way, shape, or form. If they do, then non-believers have a right to look down on Christians who don’t do what they do and at the same level of output.
2) This doesn’t align at all with what James is saying. James is saying that a person is “justified by what he does,” not that justification is somehow proved by what he does.
Good works as a demonstration of salvation may appear to be the biblical admonition, but it is not always the biblical norm. The entire book of 1 Corinthians is written to already-saved believers (Paul never questions their salvation – even in the midst of gross immorality that was “worse than the pagans”) and yet they’re the most disorganized, haphazard bunch of people one can imagine. Good works are certainly lacking in the lives of these saved people… and yet they are saved – hence justified.
If one pursues “works as evidence of true saving faith” to its logical conclusion, then no known amount of good works could ever be enough to justify a person or prove their justification. In essence, one would be in a never-ending cycle of fret as to whether they have “appeased” God enough to prove their faith. This is the dilemma that Martin Luther was caught in. Roman Catholicism completely controlled its adherents in this respect, of which he was one. In essence, he was in complete bondage to the strict edicts and demands of the Roman Catholic Church (RCC).
The extra-biblical teachings of depraved men grow abundantly in such an environment – indulgences, purgatory, prayers to the saints, adoration of Mary, legalism of all types, etc. are all the natural result of leaving behind the simplicity of the Gospel of Jesus which says we are justified by faith alone.
The RCC, in its official canons from the Council of Trent (which are in full effect today) goes beyond Scripture and actually declares the Apostle Paul anathema. You don’t need to read all of the following Canons, but each one in its proclamation clearly declares Paul anathema. This is because what’s being stated in each of these canons is 100% contrary to what he wrote. Additionally, canon 23 directly contradicts Jesus’ words and therefore, by default, proclaims Jesus anathema (oops):
Canon 9 “If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema.”
Canon 10 “If any one shall say that justifying faith is nothing else than confidence in the divine mercy pardoning sins for Christ's sake, or that it is that confidence alone by which we are justified ... let him be accursed”
Canon 14 “If any one saith, that man is truly absolved from his sins and justified, because that he assuredly believed himself absolved and justified; or, that no one is truly justified but he who believes himself justified; and that, by this faith alone, absolution and justification are effected; let him be anathema.”
Canon 23 “lf any one saith, that a man once justified can sin no more, nor lose grace, and that therefore he that falls and sins was never truly justified; or, on the other hand, that he is able, during his whole life, to avoid all sins, even those that are venial,- except by a special privilege from God, as the Church holds in regard of the Blessed Virgin; let him be anathema.” (Underlining added by me.)
Canon 24 “If any one saith, that the justice received is not preserved and also increased before God through good works; but that the said works are merely the fruits and signs of Justification obtained, but not a cause of the increase thereof; let him be anathema.”
Canon 30 “If any one saith, that, after the grace of Justification has been received, to every penitent sinner the guilt is remitted, and the debt of eternal punishment is blotted out in such wise, that there remains not any debt of temporal punishment to be discharged either in this world, or in the next in Purgatory, before the entrance to the kingdom of heaven can be opened (to him); let him be anathema.”
Canon 33 “If any one saith, that, by the Catholic doctrine touching Justification, by this holy Synod inset forth in this present decree, the glory of God, or the merits of our Lord Jesus Christ are in any way derogated from, and not rather that the truth of our faith, and the glory in fine of God and of Jesus Christ are rendered (more) illustrious; let him be anathema.”
- This council declares that if anyone disagrees with it, they are damned.
If these official canons were true, then the message of eternal life through the work of Jesus Christ (by faith alone) would be false. Further, salvation would be entirely up to the determination of the RCC. Thanks be to God however that the truth of the gospel is that we are saved, justified, sanctified, and glorified by Jesus’ work alone.
However, this still doesn’t resolve the apparent conflict between Romans 3:28 and James 2:24. Our arbitrary works based on faith can’t resolve the dilemma between what Paul said and what James said, and so the answer must not lie within us at all. Rather the good works which justify us according to James must be as Jesus declared.
Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” John 6:29
This is because –
When a man believes in me, he does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. John 12:44
Our continued faith in Jesus after saving faith in Jesus becomes the work - not a work of our own, but the work of Jesus. We believe in (have faith in) Jesus’ earthly ministry and are justified as Paul says in Romans. Our justification in what we do then (according to James) must be our reliance on Jesus' works –His continued work on our behalf as the Mediator between God and man and the future promises which we wait patiently for. If this isn't the case, then as I said above, we're in a never-ending cycle of wondering if our "works" are justifying us - even though Paul says we are already justified. By necessity it must all come back to Christ.
This is even confirmed by James:
You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. James 2:20-22
Paul states in Romans 4 that Abraham was justified (declared righteous) by faith and then he cites Genesis 15. But James in the quote above cites Genesis 22 (7 chapters and many years after the declaration of righteousness made in Genesis 15). The Genesis 22 account (which James refers to) is explained in Hebrews 11:17-19 –
By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, “In Isaac your seed shall be called,” concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense.
Do you see? Abraham’s faith (By faith Abraham…) “was made complete by what he did” by demonstrating faith in God. This was the very work that James is citing. The deed is the faith in God’s provision to bring Isaac back from the dead.
From first to last, our declaration of justification is from and of Jesus Christ – what He did on our behalf. Our works of justification are faith in Him and the works He is accomplishing and will accomplish on our behalf.
“The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” John 6:29
One argument against this could be that James, in most of chapter 2, is talking about actual deeds of righteousness – two examples:
1) What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. James 2:14-17
Counterargument – James gives a tangible example of food and clothing, but then turns to say “faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” However, no action is specified. We’ve already determined that the action required for justification is faith. Our faith justifies us through and through.
2) Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way? James 2:25
Counterargument – The Bible says Rahab’s faith is what saved her. “By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.” Hebrews 11:31
Romans 4 debunks any thought of boasting before God based on deeds. Take time to read the entire passage and understand what its saying. Understand that it fully supports what is presented today.
In the matter presented concerning faith verses deeds, listen to others, evaluate what you hear, and above all, verify what you hear against the only correct standard - the Holy Bible.
To say that justification leads naturally to good works and that they therefore prove salvation discounts biblical examples (which are cited in this note) and it also leads to a never-ending cycle of wondering what works count and which don't. Rather, all good things come from Christ, belong to Christ, and are by necessity a result of what He alone has done, is doing, or will do for us. Have faith in Him and His salvation and you are secure in that…in that alone.
For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.” Romans 1:17
And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. Romans 8:30
In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? James 2:25
From yesterday’s note you’ll know that it was “By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.” Hebrews 11:31 “By faith” she was saved; the faith justifies. The deed is merely an attachment to the faith.
Many attempt to climb high mountains, but the lack of motivation to reach the summit will often outweigh the physical ability to do so; some will turn back without accomplishing their task. In contrast, those who truly desire to reach the summit can do so – even if they have far less physical strength than those who couldn’t make it. Those with faith that they can do it will prevail.
We often quit a task because we don’t have faith in a positive outcome. Those who do, even with fewer resources, will continue on and be successful. The outcome is attainable, but the faith is vital.
In Matthew 17, Jesus’ disciples couldn’t heal a boy with a demon. Jesus rebuked them by saying, “O unbelieving and perverse generation,…” Later when they asked Him why they couldn’t drive out the demon, He responded, “Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (vs. 20, 21) The outcome then was possible, but they lacked the proper faith to bring it about.
Rahab had saving faith in the God of Israel. Her words indicate this – “When we heard of it, our hearts melted and everyone's courage failed because of you, for the LORD your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.” Joshua 2:11 Rahab understood the omnipotence of the LORD and put her trust in it.
Today, if you’re facing a difficult situation, remember that God is in complete control. Have faith that what He’s planned is sufficient to accomplish the task according to His will and for your best interests.
Lord, if Rahab the harlot can demonstrate such immense faith despite the situation, surely I can too. Be with me and strengthen my faith that I might stand in the times of testing and trial. Give me faith that can move mountains and a certainty that what I need to accomplished will occur if it’s in accord with Your sovereign will. To Your glory I make this prayer – In Jesus’ name, Amen.
As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead. James 2:26
As it says in Ecclesiastes 12:7 –
…and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.
When our spirit departs, our body dies. People have actually tried to weigh the spirit – what did the body weigh just before and just after death. This is a little goofy, but it shows that people are truly searching for what happens to us when we die.
Fortunately, God has already given us all the information we need to know for what happens at that moment. It’s only faith in what He says that may be missing. Likewise, just as our body is dead when our spirit is gone, James says that our faith is dead when deeds are missing.
Yesterday explained that even our deeds are to be of faith. In other words, deeds without faith are dead just as faith without deeds is dead. The two are inseparable and all point back to the work of Jesus Christ – in the life of the unbeliever and in the life of the believer.
If you’ve acknowledged Jesus Christ as Lord, then your deeds are to continue to trust Him and have faith that your life is being directed by Him to a good end for you. Any actual workings of deeds are to be done in faith that they are a part of His great plan in your life – just as Abraham offering up Isaac was; just as Rahab’s faith in the God of Israel was; and just as was the case in every faithful figure mentioned (or remaining unmentioned but remembered) in Hebrews 11.
Heroes of faith are those who live intimately connected to the Spirit of God and who exercise faith in all they do. Are you a hero of faith? Do you honestly trust that the immense trial you’re facing is for a good end and a glorious purpose?
What about the annoying things that happen throughout the day? Have you come to the realization that even these are molding you for your good and for His glory? Walk in His Spirit, trusting that what transpires is just as it should be, O child of the Living God.
Thank you Lord that all things – good and difficult – are being used to conform me to Your glorious image and to refine me both in this life and for the life to come. I will trust you, by faith, in everything that occurs – that You will be glorified through my life. In Jesus name! Amen.
Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. James 3:1
Having a proper understanding of the Bible before teaching ought to be the norm, but it appears to be the exception. Very few ministers and pastors can truthfully say that they’ve read the Bible even once. Bible teachers will often use non-biblical texts for Bible study – they’ll quote A Purpose Driven Life; the Left Behind series, or one of a number of non-biblical texts as if they were authoritative for successful living.
If you want bad doctrine, just click on the internet and type in “Bible Study.” There are millions of sites containing such bad information that it’s simply impossible to discern what’s right and what’s wrong without already knowing what the Bible actually says. Is it ok to drink alcohol? Only one answer is correct – Yes or No. But without having personally studied the issue, how can you know which is true.
What should be the truth about Christian giving – tithing or something else? What does tithing really teach anyway? The list is long of such lesser issues which lead us down faulty paths and which set our lives on unhappy courses. How much worse then with the great issues such as justification by faith alone; by grace alone; by Scripture alone; through Christ alone; and glory to God alone.
Consider other major doctrines such as the Trinity, the Virgin birth, the resurrection, etc. If you get those wrong, your salvation is probably in question. And yet there are millions of people who either deny these fundamental truths, or don’t know where they stand on the issue. If the masses who aren’t teachers are in trouble, then how much more the teachers of such heretical stands. Misdirected faith is wasted faith. Make sure you read your Bible and know the truth – eternity awaits…
Lord God, may You be my guide and my teacher. When I attend a Bible study or read a commentary may You open my eyes to the truth of what is being taught. Give me proper biblical discernment as a gift of Your Holy Spirit so that I might not sin against You. This is a plea and a prayer made in the beautiful name of Jesus my Lord. Amen.
We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check. James 3:2
Living a faultless road is a hard challenge and, as James indicates here, we all stumble in many ways. There are certain sects and cults which claim that we can have total victory over sin even in this life. But 1 John 1:10 dispels that notion –
If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.
We can’t claim that we were or are yet free from sin and to make such a claim is to call the inspiration of Scripture into question. However, we can be faultless in the use of our tongue. And this in turn will allow us to keep the rest of our actions in check as well.
James will spend a lot of time discussing the tongue in the days ahead. Because of the larger amount of effort he dedicates to the subject, we’d demonstrate wisdom to take heed to his admonitions. In addition to James, the book of Proverbs deals with the subject of exercising care in the use of our mouths.
Together, let’s make a concerted effort to use our mouths for praise and not cursing, adoration and not contempt, uplifting and not tearing down. If we do this, not only will those we address be blessed, but we will as well.
Negativity in life stores up in our souls and makes us bitter. So let’s attempt to focus on the good aspects of others – to the extent possible depending on the person. If there’s nothing redeeming in the person, then don’t say anything at all. Why lower yourself to the level of a debased person? All things to the glory of the Lord! So let’s watch our tongues closely.
Heavenly Father, I admit openly my inability to control my tongue in all situations. Therefore, I ask a heaping dose of Your Holy Spirit to refresh me and give me the ability to overcome my inappropriate words. I ask this that You will be glorified in my life and in the eyes of those around me. Amen.
When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. James 3:3
James is coming to a point, so we don’t want to preempt him, but let’s go back and see what he was talking about –
1) Not many should purpose to be teachers, because teachers will receive a stricter judgment, and
2) We all stumble in many ways, but if someone is never at fault in what he says, he can keep his whole body in check.
He must be relating his point about the horse to point two then and applying it to teachers. Just as watching a small part of our body can lead to a positive effect on the whole, so a bit in the mouth of a horse can make this large animal turn where we want it to turn. Watching our mouth then is an important aspect of our lives in any situation, but as a teacher it’s even more so.
Parents who don’t watch their tongues around their children are going to have children with evil mouths. Teachers who flippantly talk about misguided subjects will only produce misguided students. And Bible teachers and pastors who make faulty analysis of biblical passage are going to produce students and congregations with faulty doctrine.
If you don’t think this is so, just give your thoughts on any touchy subject from a biblical perspective. Either it’s acceptable or it’s not acceptable, but what you were trained is what you believe, regardless of what the truth is.
Now, go do a study directly from the Word and check it out for yourself – without presupposing the outcome. Continue this pattern with every doctrine you learn. Don’t blindly accept what you’re taught. Your teacher is more responsible, but you still bear responsibility in the matter.
Dearest heavenly Father – I can see that the small bit which directs my instructor’s mouth may not be fitted perfectly and I therefore need to check out what I’m taught. If I’m fooled into believing a misguided analysis of a particular point, it is ultimately my own fault. Please keep my doctrine pure by opening my eyes to what is correct. Amen.
Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. James 3:4
Imagine the massive size of modern ships – larger than football fields and able to carry cargo loads more immense than most of us could believe. And yet they can be steered by a rudder at the back of the ship which is miniscule in comparison to the size of them and their load. Add in strong winds which push against the gigantic sides of the ships and the waves which beat down the length of them and it astonishes that they can keep a true course all the way to their remote destinations. Now think on the even more immense direction of souls steered by a wayward preacher or leader. In 2 Peter 1:21, it says –
For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
The words which have come to be known as the Holy Bible were divinely inspired by God. In fact, this verse indicates that these men were “carried along” by the Holy Spirit, even as a ship is carried along by the wind. Imagine now – even though these words were directed as if by a great wind moving the men to write the words of God, it takes just a small rudder to distort it for one’s own evil purposes.
An effective distortion of God’s intent will direct the course of the lives of those who believe it – even onto the rocky shores of destruction. However, there is a lighthouse to direct us on the foaming seas; it is God’s Holy Spirit. How important then is it to check what we’ve been taught and ask for the illumination of the Word by God so that we don’t end in the depths of the ocean of deceitful instruction.
The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple. I open my mouth and pant, longing for your commands. Turn to me and have mercy on me, as you always do to those who love your name. Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me. Psalm 119:130-133
Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. James 3:5
So, James makes the point we’ve been thinking on for the past couple days; it is the tongue which, although small in comparison to the rest of the body, can be a force of destruction for so much more than its size would intimate.
The tongue is from where our boasting proceeds.
The tongue is from where our cursing proceeds.
The tongue is from where our blessings proceed.
The tongue is from where our instruction proceeds.
The tongue is from where our salvation proceeds.
That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9
Our tongue is a force for both good and evil depending on how it’s used. When it’s used improperly, it’s – just like a small spark in the forest – can cause immense destruction.
Think on the misspoken words in political history which have cost millions of lives. Likewise, think of the words which issue from the mouths of false prophets which have led to the eternal condemnation of souls around the world and throughout history. If humanity were a forest and a false teacher were a spark, the recipients of his fiery message would be compared to dry tinder which is so easily consumed.
This is why it’s so very important to replenish oneself from the well of Living Water which gives life and protection from this inferno. Read your Bible; study your Bible; know your Bible better than you know yourself and the Water of Life will guard your limbs, your trunk, and your roots from the wiles of the evil one.
Lord God, let me be like the one the Psalmist proclaims - Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Amen.
The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. James 3:6
Just as the small spark in the dry forest can burn up many miles of land, so is the tongue a force for great destruction in the world. When the tongue isn’t restrained, it “corrupts the whole person.” When the person is corrupted, everything he or she comes into contact with is also affected by that corruption.
Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormons, rejected the words of Paul in Galatians 1:6-8 and proclaimed “another gospel” and has deceived millions of people in successive generations by his false teachings. Paul quite clearly calls any gospel other than the one he proclaims “anathema” or worthy of eternal condemnation.
Adolph Hitler invoked the name of “Jehovah” when railing against the Jewish people. His evil words led to the destruction of many millions of Jewish people and even more Christians and other “undesirable” people in the lands he controlled. His words came not from God, but from hell itself. His tongue received the instruction of the devil and repeated it to the destruction of not only the lives of those he fought against, but the lives of his own people. Germany was laid waste by one small tongue – a spark in an immense forest.
These examples only touch on the evil found in the history of mankind. Today we face evil in the form of Iran and the Islamic imams who speak of, and participate in, the destruction of western society. Israel is to be “wiped off the map” according to these lunatics. Their words stir up the billions of Muslims and are leading us down the path to Armageddon.
Such large examples tend to make us overlook our own destructive tongues though. Let us, even in our small circles of life, conduct our tongues in reverence of God, in building up our friends, and in the tender care of our children. May our own tongues be especially careful to always be salted from heaven and not spiced with the fires of hell.
Lord God, my tongue has not always been a tool for blessing – You know this all too well. Please help me to control my tongue that it will be used for goodness rather than evil, for blessing rather than cursing, for godly counsel rather than wickedness. This is my petition and this is my prayer – made in the powerful name of Jesus. Amen.
All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. James 3:7, 8
James continues speaking about our tongues. This type of repetition is meant to enforce what was already said and is something we all do while speaking. Hebrew wisdom literature is filled with repetition and is known as “parallelism.” King David used this technique and part of the 15th Psalm resembles James’ thoughts (the power of words and the tongue) –
Psalm: LORD, who may dwell in your sanctuary? James: Who may live on your holy hill?
Psalm: He whose walk is blameless James: and who does what is righteous,
Psalm: who speaks the truth from his heart James: and has no slander on his tongue,
Psalm: who does his neighbor no wrong James: and casts no slur on his fellow man,
Though we can tame all kinds of animals, we find it hard to tame our own tongues. What an indictment – unreasoning animals are better students that we are in some respects.
Let’s make a concerted effort to speak words of soothing and healing rather than evil and poison. In the end, when we speak flippantly of others, we degrade ourselves as well.
Lord God, just as I prayed yesterday for help controlling my tongue, so I pray again today. Let my tongue not be a tool of destruction, but an implement of edification and love. Be with me during this challenge to improve my words and to increase my praises of others and blessings in Your name. Thank You for hearing my prayer. Amen.
With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness. James 3:9
James set up a contradiction in the way many of us live our lives. We normally speak well of God and acknowledge our respect, adoration, and love for Him. Professing Christians in particular feign to misuse His name. And yet we tend to not act in the same way towards people we dislike. James indicates this is contradictory thinking because man has “been made in God’s likeness.” This thought goes back to the first page of the Bible –
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27
The very next words in the Genesis account are, “And God blessed them…” Man is God’s image-bearer and has been blessed by God; therefore, we show disrespect to God when we curse others, whom He has blessed.
Any curses on man are at God’s prerogative – violations of His law, for example. But for us to flippantly curse our leaders because we disagree with them, our supervisors because they’re overbearing, our neighbors because we’re tired of them, or any others for whatever reason, we only bring discredit upon ourselves.
Instead of curses, let’s shower our enemies with blessing. This is what Jesus expects of us in Luke 6:28 and is what Paul repeats in Romans 12:14. Bless, and do not curse.
Today a tough challenge has been placed before me, O God. Even if my mouth doesn’t curse others, my heart often does…and sometimes it wells up and comes out my mouth. Give my heart a hefty cleansing and take away the evil thoughts it produces towards others. May my mouth reflect a pure heart and shower others with blessings. Amen.
Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. James 3:10
One of the many contradictions of our lives is set before us today. We bless one person whom we’re favorably disposed to and then turn around to tear down another person we dislike. We praise God with our lips on Sunday morning and then speak His glorious name in a profane way on Monday. We’re all guilty of this to some extent, but suppose we don’t directly speak the Lord’s name in a profane way – do we still allow ourselves to watch movies that do?
It’s hard to see a movie today that has a PG rating or higher that doesn’t contain profanity of some sort and most of them include the exalted name of Jesus or God in a profane way. Although we’re not actively cursing in this way, we are passively – particularly if we take along others to the movie. Our sitting through this implies to them that we will accept it. Each of us needs to evaluate this concept and come to a decision about what we will and won’t allow and then to stick to it as best as we can.
These are only a couple examples of the myriad of them that we demonstrate each day, but they do indicate what our walk with the Lord is like to others. When they see us using demeaning words towards others, they know the state of our heart. When we allow our lips to state something like, “G^# D#*$that was a great ballgame today”, we condone such talk in their lives as well.
Let’s make every effort to carefully use our tongues towards others and allow them to only speak praises, not smears; blessings, not curses. And when we fail, as most of us will, let’s remember to acknowledge our sin and request forgiveness and renewed strength.
O Lord, my tongue isn’t always free from that which brings about Your wrath. I fail to bless and instead I curse. I fail to praise and instead I smear. No matter what others do, give me the strength to prevail over this sin which so easily arises in my daily life. I love You and want that love to be apparent to all. Amen.
Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? James 3:11
James asks one of a couple of rhetorical questions today. Can one spring produce both fresh water and salt water? The answer is “no.” If the source is bad, then only bad water will flow from it. If it’s good, then the water will be pure. The problem though is that one can’t tell just by looking at the water if it’s good or not. Sometimes even a taste can miss harmful impurities.
If one goes to Yellowstone National Park, they can see crystal clear water coming from the earth, but it can’t be consumed. Likewise, if you look at water from a tap in the Philippines which looks clear and assume its good, you’re likely to have bad stomach problems because of the bacteria living in it. So it is with our mouths.
Good speech comes from a good heart and bad speech comes from a bad heart. How can we, saying we have a right heart with God, utter forth profanities and curses? The two are incompatible.
Likewise, preachers may have a message which sounds good, but if it’s tainted his followers will end up in destruction. A good message comes from a good heart, but it’s often hard to tell from mere appearances.
Take time to reflect on both the message and the messenger – and then compare them against the only proper standard – the Holy Bible. Don’t trust any message, messenger, or combination without verifying it with God’s word. Take time to read these two accounts today. They tell of tainted water that was purified by the Lord,
1. Exodus 15:22-25
Now think on one more source of Water – the Living Water. This gives everlasting life to wells full of impurities and cleanses them so that they will never be tainted again. How great is our Lord! Have faith and trust that He can purify your lips today.
O Lord, how you took a corrupted well like me and purified me! I stand in awe of the work You have done and are doing in my life. Continue to cleanse me that I may be a spring of purity, flowing out into a world which needs healing. May Your Holy Spirit overflow from me and lead others to the salvation found in You. Amen.
My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water. James 3:12
As we learned yesterday, a spring is only going to produce one kind of water, but it can be purified by the Lord. Likewise, a fruit tree is going to produce after its kind. This goes all the way back to the first page of the Bible –
Then God said, "Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds." And it was so. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. Genesis 1:11, 12
The Genesis account gives us an insight into the mystery of Christ. He was born of the Holy Spirit and of Mary. Therefore, He is the unique God/Man – fully God through the Holy Spirit and fully Man through Mary. Therefore, He alone is qualified to change our nature from corruption to life – from a “salt spring” to a fresh one.
By nature, we’re at enmity with God and we can’t produce anything pleasing to God; sin separates us from Him. But by accepting Christ, our very nature is changed and we can now be pleasing to Him – not because of anything inherent in us, but by the power of the Holy Spirit.
If you haven’t yet accepted Christ, no matter how you feel about your good deeds, your separation from God makes them futile. Put your trust in the Lord and He’ll change you to a spring of fresh water.
Heavenly Father, thank you for the gift of the Water of Life – the renewing of our souls through the power of the Holy Spirit. I ask that you fill me daily with Your goodness so that I will be a continual spring of fresh water to those around me. Thank You for Jesus, thank you for Your Spirit, thank You for Your great love. Amen.
Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. James 3:13
The Psalmist of old reflects the same concept of wisdom as James does –
Whoever is wise, let him heed these things and consider the great love of the LORD. Psalm 107:43
This is the final verse of a psalm which speaks of the greatness of God and his marvelous deeds done among the sons of men – both directly and through creation.
The good “deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom” are those then that acknowledge and consider the great love of the Lord. If we can keep what we’re doing in that perspective, then our deeds will truly be deeds of righteousness. This is because they show both wisdom and understanding about the nature of God which leads to an obedient life in Him.
By the very nature of loving the Lord and considering His continual and undying love for us, we can then respond to others in faith and in good deeds toward them. Ultimately, what benefit is it to do deeds of goodness for others without considering God? In the end they’re shallow and meaningless.
Bill Gates, for example, can give billions of dollars for AIDS funding, but without faith in God and considering His hand in our existence, the gesture has only temporary benefit. Only the body, which perishes, is relieved. But the soul of the sinner isn’t changed at all. In fact, its allegiance has actually been directed further away from God. By giving credit to Mr. Gates, or those who worked in the process, the Lord is denied the credit He is due. However, if Mr. Gates did these things in the name of the Lord, then He would be rightly considered as the true donor of goodness.
When using our tongue in speaking the deeds we’ve accomplished, remember to humbly acknowledge and consider the Lord’s hand in the process – deferring the credit to Him.
Lord Jesus, it’s hard to accomplish our deeds and not want credit for them. But Lord, give me the ability to pass on the honor to You. May You alone be acknowledged for the wonders accomplished in the course of human events. Yes Lord, all glory to You. Amen.
But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. James 3:14
Yesterday James asked us to show our “good life by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.” Today he shows us what is contrary to that – bitter envy and selfish ambition. If we’re truly humble in our hearts, then what we do will naturally be for the benefit of others and there won’t be any envy or ambitious intent which satisfies the selfish soul. As Eliphaz the Temanite says in the book of Job –
Resentment kills a fool, and envy slays the simple. Job 5:2
When we covet what others have we do several things all in the same action:
1) We dishonor God who has placed us where we are; who has blessed us with the abilities we have; and who has likewise favored our neighbor with the very thing we are envying.
2) We dishonor our neighbor who has been blessed by God with the gift or possession we are envying. In this manner, we no longer love our neighbor as ourselves.
As James said in a previous chapter - If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, "Love your neighbor as yourself," you are doing right.
Paul, likewise acknowledges this in Romans 13:10 – “Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”
James says if we act contrary to this, we should neither deny it nor boast about it. What we need is a heart change and a new attitude. If you’re suffering with envy or selfish ambition, you need to lay it before the Lord. Let’s do it together right now.
Lord Jesus, help me to be satisfied with the life and blessings I’ve received. Take away my envious eye and my selfish heart and replace them with loving hands which build bridges, caring words which edify others, and a gentle, thankful spirit which brings honor to You. This I pray that You will be glorified. Amen.
Such "wisdom" does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. James 3:15
Previously James spoke of envy and selfish ambition. He says these things have nothing to do with heaven.
Really think on those you look to for spiritual guidance. What are their motivations? You can’t always tell and no one would intentionally follow a deceiver, but do you perceive them as pure and selfless? Would they be willing to stand in the same position if the money stopped flowing in or if there was no notoriety? We need to be extremely careful about who we follow and why.
Good looks fade, bad financial decisions bring about disaster, and political winds change. Preaching the gospel may go from something desirous and lucrative to something punishable by law. Those who stood in the pulpit because of selfish ambition will certainly fall away under conditions like these.
Likewise, envy can also motivate our clergy’s decisions. If they perceive others in higher positions, nicer locations, or closely aligned with political leaders, they may engage in unspiritual talk about them. James says this attitude certainly doesn’t come from heaven, but from a love of the world.
Those who are supposed to be in spiritual positions may be motivated from an unspiritual source; instead of being inspired by a love of God, their heart may be motivated by the lure of the devil.
Stand back and evaluate those you follow from time to time and make sure their guidance is biblical and godly and that the source of their motivation hasn’t been corrupted by money or fame. If you see them taking a bad turn, talk to them about it. Everyone needs accountability and no one is above temptation.
Heavenly Father, today I’d like to pray for my pastor. I believe him to be a godly man, but he’s also just a man. Keep him from the wiles of the devil, from envy of others, and from selfish deceit. Fill him with Your wisdom and a pure heart for the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus. Amen.
For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. James 3:16
James pretty much sums up the entire case for evil in the world – from the Fall of Man down to current times. It was envy of man’s favorable position as God’s image-bearer, and also selfish ambition that he could usurp God’s authority, which prompted the devil to bring about his rebellion. Likewise, Adam was tempted with prideful, selfish ambition and enticed to sin –
"You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." Genesis 3:4, 5
Since that time, man has been enticed into “every evil practice” by envy and/or selfish ambition. We now live in a relativistic world where ultimate truth is considered a myth and “all paths lead to God.” But this thought process stems directly from selfish ambition as well.
Rather than believing in man created in God’s image, we follow a god created in man’s imagination. We do this because we ourselves want to be the ruler of our own fate and our own god. This only produces more disorder, which in turn produces more evil practices. Eventually, this can only lead to chaos and discord.
This is where the world is heading and the results are recorded in the book of Revelation – judgment on an unrepentant world. God has shown us His path to reconciliation, His one path. Outside of Jesus there is only death and destruction, but in Him there is forgiveness and reconciliation. In Him alone are light, order, and every good thing.
Lord God, help me to be wise and discerning in my thoughts. Take away the darkness of envy and selfish ambition and replace it with the light of contentment and peace in Jesus my Lord. This I pray that others may come to understand the truth of Your gospel through me. Amen.
But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. James 3:17
Today’s “but” contrasts yesterday’s verse which spoke of envy and selfish ambition leading to disorder and “every evil practice.” In contrast to that, we learn the qualities which demonstrate heavenly wisdom. Is this the display of wisdom in our own lives?
Pure – undefiled and without secondary motives; seeking the glory of God alone.
Peace loving – in such wisdom, strife is missing because there is nothing selfish to produce it.
Considerate – when we defer our wants to others, we demonstrate the peace-loving attitude wisdom cries out for; our motives are pure.
Submissive – Do we demonstrate humility and a willingness to submit to those around us? By doing so, we show consideration for their station. This leads to peace us.
Full of mercy – Mercy is not getting what you do deserve. Are we withholding our hand from bringing judgment on others even when they deserve it? God has been infinitely merciful to us and we need to act likewise, albeit in a limited manner, to those around us.
Good fruit – In Galatians 5, Paul says the fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Are these qualities evident in our lives?
Impartiality – Do we cover our eyes to status, color, wealth, etc. in other people when we make decisions? Christ did. He forgave men of every tribe, nation, and tongue. Let’s demonstrate impartiality in all of our dealings with others.
Sincere – rather than selfish ambition, we should always demonstrate an attitude of complete sincerity when dealing with others. In the end, only God knows the truth of your sincerity, so make sure it’s sincere even to the very core of your existence and He will reward you.
Yes Lord, fill me with the fruits of Your Spirit that I may demonstrate the wisdom that comes from heaven. Take away my envy and selfish ambition and replace it with the goodness that can only come from You. This I pray in the exalted and glorious name of Jesus! Amen.
Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness. James 3:18
Jesus spoke the parable of the sower in Matthew 13 which tells of the need for proper soil in order for the stalk and grain to properly mature. James uses this theme as well in order to make his spiritual application.
Just as a sower needs good soil and the right conditions for his grain to be plentiful, James says that we will produce a “harvest of righteousness” when we sow in peace. Remember the context – he’s been speaking for the past few verses about envy and selfish ambition. In the end, sowing our seed in such an environment leads to chaos and complete dissatisfaction in our lives.
But if we turn our attitude towards peace and contentment instead, what will spring forth is a righteous life which is honoring to God. The amazing thing about this is that so many people hear this type of admonition week after week in sermons and then walk out of the church with their ears still closed to the very message that can actually bring about the joy they’re missing in their lives.
Jesus didn’t speak his words for “somebody else” and James isn’t relaying this message for “another time and place.” These things pertain to our lives, right here and right now. The world we live in is far more materialistic than at any point in history and our priorities get completely out of whack with envy as new innovations come out almost daily. Our eyes are never satisfied with what we have and there is simply no peace in our lives.
But if we can only set aside these motivations and seek after peace and contentment, there we will find the better harvest James speaks about. We’re only given one chance to get this life right, so look to the wisdom James relates – your harvest will be wonderful.
Glorious God – I ask that You turn me into the peacemaker that James speaks of. I’ve had enough of worldly possessions and chasing after the latest thing. It’s time for me to direct my eyes, my heart, and my soul to raising a harvest of righteousness which is to Your glory and for my eternal happiness. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? James 4:1
Boy did James peg this one! He’ll give us more specifics in the verses ahead, but it should be apparent that all of our trials, struggles, fights, and quarrels actually come from right inside of us. Think about it, if we didn’t have pride we’d not care if we were offended and the fight would never get started. If we didn’t want things we didn’t have, we wouldn’t envy others and steal, kill, or lie to get them.
Admittedly, desire can also be used as a force for good; innovation comes from a desire for these things as well, but it’s being channeled properly rather than improperly. Motivation causes us to work within our means for a good purpose, but envy causes us to go beyond our means to attain the same thing. Such is the case of the “battle within you.” We need to quench unhealthy desires and emotions and work towards our goals using proper levels of them.
Think on any issue where sin is involved and you’ll see that the problem could have been resolved from within the person by merely handling what happened differently.
Recently, a candidate for Senate in Connecticut lied about having served in Vietnam in order to bolster his position. He was working outside of his means to achieve a goal when instead he could have just as easily used Vietnam as a point of pride for his friends or fellow citizens who actually went. This is just one example which reflects the nature of sin in all of us. We need to be extremely careful that when the internal battle begins, we quench the unhealthy desires before sin gets a foothold.
Lord, I can see my own unhealthy desires mentioned in today’s verse. James held a mirror up to me; and there, right in it, are my own failings. I often lose those battles I face and it ends in sin. Please give me the courage and fortitude to fight the battle and win before sin is released in my life. This I ask that You will be exalted through my faithful Christian walk. Amen.
You want something but don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. James 4:2
James doesn’t hold back a bit as he explains the reasons for our troubles. Normally a counselor won’t be so direct with his words, but will rather talk around a subject and allow the one being counseled to come to an understanding of the problem through questioning. But James pulls out his boxing gloves and gives the old one-two across the chin.
You’re a stubborn mule. You want things and don’t get them and here’s why. He explains that we would rather “kill and covet, quarrel and fight” than merely ask God for the things we desire. Why would we do this? He’ll give us good reasons in the verses ahead, but it should be painfully obvious that if we’re willing to kill for something we don’t receive then one of the reasons is that it’s something we shouldn’t have in the first place.
If we have to go to such extreme measures to obtain a desired object, relationship, job, etc. then we’ve made it an idol in the place of God. One main purpose of God’s commandment to not covet was to tell the people that what He provides is sufficient and we should be content with that.
A second purpose is to show us our immense need for something greater; because by our very nature we can’t fulfill the law, “Do not covet.” As Paul said, “Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.” Romans 3 verse 20.
The law makes nothing perfect and was merely given to lead us to a realization of how sinful we truly are. Once we get that, then we can finally see our need for Jesus. If you’re struggling with overwhelming desires, hand them over to the Lord and ask for His strength in dealing with them. He prevailed and through Him, you can too.
Jesus, desire for things I don’t have, seems to be the norm in my life. Help me to be content with what you’ve given me. When there’s something I don’t have, that I hope for, give me the patience to work for it, rather than burn with unhealthy desire leading to coveting or worse. Grant me this request that I might not sin against You. Amen.
When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. James 4:3
God is infinitely gracious. It is in His very nature to bestow on His children the things they desire and especially the things they need. However, we tend to ask for things we don’t need and with the wrong motives as well.
“Oh Lord, I really need a cell phone.” The fact is that a few short years ago, there was no such thing as a cell phone. For 6000 years, man got along just fine without them.
“Oh Lord, I really want to retire at 65.” Until the age of Social Security, people worked until they couldn’t work anymore, regardless of age. Then families pulled together and took care of the elderly. People who made it to 65 were the exception and not the rule. Now we want to retire at 65 and spend many golden years playing golf.
These aren’t true needs, but are our selfish desires. The vast majority of what we pray for is exactly that, something to fulfill our wish list. Selfless prayers ask for other’s needs to be met, for peaceable living in our circumstances, and for our own daily bread. Above all, selfless prayers ask that God is glorified through our lives; regardless of level of wealth, location of home, or amount of free time to play.
Rather, may Jesus Christ be seen in our lives, exalted by those who see us, and be the Lord over everything we have, do, and interact with. When we pray for Jesus to be the recipient of glory in the meeting of our needs, we will receive the thing which will accomplish this; in abundance. He is infinitely worthy; so at the end of every prayer of request, make sure you add in something like “if only You will be glorified through this petition.”
Lord, my heart is heavy for those around me; may You bless them. Lord my stomach needs to be filled; may You fill it. Lord, my nation’s leaders have strayed from Your word; please restore them. All this I ask that You will be glorified. May it be according to Your will and Your name’s praise. Amen.
You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. James 4:4
Don’t get upset at James because of his tone. He’s writing as if he were a pastor speaking to his audience – in general terms. What’s being said applies to all of us, but he’s not simply pointing his finger at everyone else and claiming superiority over them. His point is that the envy and selfish ambition he was describing shows a love of the world – the system of the world and all it entails. This would be different than the “world” mentioned in John 3:16 which speaks of the people of the world. When we put the love of the world ahead of our love for God, we are by nature at enmity with Him.
As Jesus said elsewhere concerning money –
No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money. John 6:24
Devotion to God must be absolute. However, it doesn’t mean removing yourself from the world. This is what monks and other ascetics do, but the Bible doesn’t teach this either. We’re to live in the world but not be “of” the world. We can freely use what is around us, but it is temporary and passing away. Putting our hope in things rather than God separates us from Him. What’s stealing your joy? If it’s a material possession, then you need to let it go – you’ve lost your focus on God. In all things, remember to put God first and not be distracted by things of the world.
Lord God, I admit that today’s verse speaks of me. I often get sidetracked by the things of the world and even allow them to steal my joy. In the end, I know this only separates me from You, so please help me to keep my eyes, my heart, and my thoughts on You at all times. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely? James 4:5
Surprisingly enough, this is a good verse for getting doctrine concerning the Spirit straight – not just on the issue of jealousy, but in other areas as well. God caused the Spirit to live in us. This, when taken in context, shows that the Spirit indwells the believer. Paul says this occurs the moment we believe –
In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, Ephesians 1:13
There is no “separate” baptism of the Holy Spirit and there is no sign necessary to know He resides in you (such as a specific prayer language). The believer is given the Holy Spirit by faith in Christ.
Another area this verse deals with indirectly is eternal salvation. If we have the Spirit of God living in us and He envies intensely, then it implies that despite our failings, He never leaves us. As Hebrews says, Jesus is the author of “eternal salvation.” The Holy Spirit will never depart the believer in Christ. As this is so, shouldn’t we live in a manner that honors God rather than bringing about discipline for our envy, selfish ambition, strife, and other wayward conflict?
Take time today to reflect on the nature of your salvation and the eternal rewards that it implies.
Great Lord and God! Thank you for the gift of your Holy Spirit and thank You that He will never leave me once I’ve trusted in the work of Jesus. Because of His cross, I’m free from condemnation and I live with Your presence ever with me! Glory to You in the highest. Amen.
But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." James 4:6
One of the most wonderful statements one could ever read! Throughout the ages, man has fallen short of the glory of God. Even after the coming of Christ and the forgiveness of sins through His precious blood, man continues to falter and fall into sin – but He gives more grace.
There is no end to the love of God which is in Christ Jesus. And no sin you commit after trusting in Him can ever separate you again from the bonds of adoption – because He gives more grace.
Have you struggled with something that you feel is hindering your walk with God? Don’t try to hide it, He knows full well your limitations and… He gives more grace. Hand your weakness over to Him and ask Him to walk with you during the struggle. He will because… He gives more grace. When you demonstrate your humility through confession and supplication, God is pleased to lavish His grace upon you. Humility opens the doors of heaven to the children of God and restores God’s favor on you.
But God opposes the proud. This is the very reason why Christ Jesus is the only way to salvation. Confessing “Jesus is Lord” means that a person has said, “I can’t do it; I can’t save myself.” In the moment one comes to this realization and calls out, by faith, on the name of Jesus then God is pleased to give the unmerited favor – the grace – that we so desperately need.
At the same moment, God gives us mercy by forgiving us of our transgressions and sins. Unfortunately, if we fail to come to this point, God’s wrath remains and only an expectation of judgment and condemnation is left. If you’ve called on Jesus and are again stuck in the bonds of sin – call out for help to Your Lord. He gives more grace. Thanks be to God – He gives more grace.
Heavenly Father, I surely need Your grace. When I called on Jesus, I knew I was lost. Since then, I’ve failed You in a million ways. But I know Your grace is greater than all my sin. Cleanse me anew with the precious and eternally purifying blood of my Lord. And I will endeavor to please You all my days. Amen.
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:7
We’ve been discussing selfish desires, envy, coveting, etc. These things show friendship with the world and its fallen system. By having a relationship with the world, we place ourselves in a position of enmity with God. But today James gives us the remedy – submit yourself to God.
One would think this applies to the general sense of looking up and praying to the unknown Creator as people of any faith would do – but the initial problem of sin isn’t dealt with by “religion.” Instead, the problem is dealt with by Jesus Christ. This verse must be taken in the Christian context. Buddhists, Muslims, etc. cannot bridge the divide by submission to a god that has failed to deal with the over-arching problem of sin. Interestingly, “Islam” means submission, but it isn’t submission that brings restoration. Instead, the devil is still in complete control of them because the divide hasn’t been crossed.
Jesus – fully God and fully Man – can lay His hand on the Father and on each of us and restore felicity between the two. Once this is done, we need to continue to submit to God and resist the devil all our days. As we do so, we’ll have that dude on the run. When covered by the precious blood of Christ and living in the power of the Holy Spirit, the devil has no claim on us. In fact, the great power of God causes him to “run devil,,, ruuuuun” in the opposite direction. Forrest Gump couldn’t run any faster.
If you’ve come to Christ, then you have the power and force needed to resist the devil. Rely on the Holy Spirit to lead you, protect you, and give you wisdom in dealing with the devil. On your own, you’ll only live in the flesh and at enmity with God.
Heavenly Father, thank You so very much for the gift of Your Holy Spirit! Give me the wisdom to rely on Him and His power as I walk in this darkened world. May He protect me from the afflictions of the devil and carry me safely to that heavenly abode I desire to see – the place where Your glory dwells. Amen.
Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. James 4:8
Drawing near to God is a common Old Testament theme which is repeated several times in the New. Moses drew near to God at Mt. Sinai. God was said to be near the people Israel because of the covenant. The people were told to draw near to God in the Psalms, in Isaiah, and elsewhere. Towards the end of the Old Testament, we read –
She has not obeyed His voice, She has not received correction; She has not trusted in the LORD, She has not drawn near to her God. Zephaniah 3:2
Will this also be said of you? James and other New Testament writers reach out to us and ask us – like the prophets of old – to draw near to God. But someday there will be no remedy. However, if we are to draw near to Him now James asks us to wash our hands and purify our hearts. This goes back to the Psalms as well –
Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? Or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, Nor sworn deceitfully. Psalm 24:3, 4
Let’s not lift up our souls to idols and let’s only speak what is true and right. May our actions cleanse our hands and purify our hearts.
Lord God, may my prayers be set before You as incense and may the lifting up of my hands be as the evening sacrifice to You. Set a guard over the door of my lips and keep my heart from lifting itself up to idols. May my eyes be on You and my soul be satisfied from Your hand alone. Amen.
Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. James 4:9
James is certainly referring back to the words found in the book of Ecclesiastes –
A good name is better than precious ointment,
And the day of death than the day of one’s birth;
Better to go to the house of mourning
Than to go to the house of feasting,
For that is the end of all men;
And the living will take it to heart.
Sorrow is better than laughter,
For by a sad countenance the heart is made better.
The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning,
But the heart of fools is in the house of mirth. Ecclesiastes 7:1-4
Here Solomon explains what James assumes his readers already know. In other words, he’s writing to first century Jews and reminding them of the wisdom of Ecclesiastes. They would have been very familiar with what he was saying because Ecclesiastes was read openly every year during the feast of Tabernacles. If you’ve not read Ecclesiastes before, take time to read it today. It will only take you a few minutes and it’s an extremely beautiful book – full of wisdom. Ultimately, there will be everlasting joy, but in this present life, there are times when mourning is better than feasting; sorrow rather than laughter is right; and weeping is more appropriate than mirth. Have discernment in when and how you display your emotions to be pleasing both to those around you and to the Lord who searches your heart.
Lord, thank You for the wisdom found in the Bible. Help me to discern when to laugh and when to mourn, when to feast and when to fast. May my actions bring you honor and those around me comfort. Let my life reflect Your wisdom at all times. Amen.
Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. James 4:10
James echoes what Jesus Himself said in the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector –
"Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.' "But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.' "I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." Luke 18:10-14
When we’re confident in ourselves we demonstrate an arrogance which cannot be overcome by heaven itself. The gap already exists between God and us because of our sin. Therefore, to boast in anything we’ve done makes no sense. If we could bridge the gap, there would have been no need for the law, for the prophets, and especially for Jesus. But God who is rich in mercy is willing to reach down to us through Jesus and lift us up – if we will only allow Him. Stop trusting in your own goodness and look to the cross. The cross is what we deserve, but Jesus took it instead. What could you add to that? Humble yourselves and God Himself will lift you up.
Instead of hell, you offer heaven. Instead of Your back, You turn to us Your face. When we deserved a cross, You took it upon Yourself. How can I trust in my own righteousness when it doesn’t exist? Instead, let me come and worship You, O Christ. Allow me to call on You! Amen.
Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. James 4:11
Context is important when reading verses like this and the one in Matthew 7:1, 2 –
Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
Quite often one will hear or see this verse quoted by people in order to defend the inappropriate lifestyle they live – in other words “who are you to judge me, didn’t Jesus tell you not to do that?” However, just a few verses down we’re told to make judgments and right moral decisions. Inappropriate judgment comes in the form of continuously pointing the finger at others and finding fault when there is no sound basis for it.
The law is written and is clearly defined. When someone breaks the law, we know what the violation is and can make a sound decision concerning the offense. But when we sit as a judge of the law – speaking against one another without the weight of the law, then we sit in judgment of the law. It is God who wrote the law and therefore we have no right to sit in judgment on it, but can only apply it to ourselves and to others when a violation of it occurs.
Be careful not to quote such verses out of context because by doing so, we actually violate the very verses we’re quoting. To accuse someone who is properly handling the law of mishandling is to sit as a judge over their correct application. Always check the context of a verse before using it incorrectly.
Lord Jesus, help me to rightly divide Your word, taking everything in its proper context. I know that when I misapply Your law, I myself violate the very precepts I proclaim that I’m upholding. So Lord, give me wisdom in my use and quoting of Your precious word. Amen.
There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor? James 4:12
Remember yesterday’s thought. Our judgment is to be based on the law, not in addition to the law. God sets the standards of what is and is not morally acceptable in His law and we are to adhere to this without addition. When James says “there is only one Lawgiver and Judge” he is speaking of Jesus Christ.
It is Jesus who is able to save and destroy. This is because He authored the law and then fulfilled the law. Therefore He is both qualified to judge infractions of the law and also to pardon infractions committed. Why? It is because He, after fulfilling the law completely and perfectly received the punishment of the law on our behalf.
The cross, leading to His death, was just punishment for any infraction of it. When we trust in Jesus Christ, we accept both His fulfillment of the law and the pardon offered through his substitutionary death. In other words, the punishment we deserved was also fulfilled by Him. America’s founding fathers understood the concept of both pardon and single trial for punishment of an offense and laid them out in our constitution –
The President … shall have Power to Grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States…
No person shall be… subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb…
We all have sinned; we all deserve death for our sins. Jesus fulfilled the law by not sinning and then was crucified under the law. However, death could not hold Him because death results from sin. Now, when we trust Him, we are free because He received the trial and judgment in Himself. We can now stand pardoned through His shed blood. What a bargain!
Why, O Lord, would You take upon Yourself the weight of the law in my place? O Christ Jesus, I accept Your pardon and what You accomplished on my behalf – You are my Lord and I will follow You all my days. Glory to You, O Christ! Amen.
Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." James 4:13
We’ll wait until tomorrow for why James is saying this, but he’s making a point that we all need to pay heed to. Until then, let’s just remember that business and making money is part of our lives. From the beginning of the Bible when God planned the creation of Adam, work has been something we were intended to do –
When the LORD God made the earth and the heavens-and no shrub of the field had yet appeared on the earth and no plant of the field had yet sprung up, for the LORD God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no man to work the ground,…The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. Genesis 2:4, 5 & 15
Therefore, to sit around idly accepting handouts when there is gainful work to be had is actually a violation of our intended purpose. There are times when work can’t be found or when man is physically limited, but this is the exception and not the norm. Almost everyone can be productive and there is always something to accomplish if one wants to put their foot forward and accept responsibility.
As the Bible says, it’s the sluggard who complains that there’s a lion in the streets (meaning he will find ANY reason to stay inside and watch TV rather than getting out and working.) If you’re not producing according to your abilities (other than because of the poor economy, health, etc.) then you are bringing discredit upon yourself and your Creator. Have respect for yourself – there’s no lion in the street.
Lord Jesus, please give me the ability, the desire, and the occasion to be productive. Let me not whittle away my years doing nothing, but rather let my works be such that they bring You great glory. And as I’m blessed to be productive, remind me to turn and give a portion back to You – in gratitude for what You’ve done for me. Amen.
Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. James 4:14
Yesterday we read, “Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’” Today we’re told that such planning is often futile because we have no idea what the future holds. Instead, our life is equated with the mist – it comes and is gone before our eyes. Again, this concept stems from the books of wisdom and elsewhere in the Old Testament –
Man born of woman is of few days and full of trouble. He springs up like a flower and withers away; like a fleeting shadow, he does not endure. Job 14:1, 2
In fact, the Bible speaks of our life as fragile and temporary many, many times. Because of this, it implores us to seek God while we can. It’s almost a universal certainty that those who face death try to find religion quickly. The problem is that we may not find the truth in the religion we seek. In such desperation our minds become over-taxed with the stress of the moment and we may grab onto a faith which is misdirected.
However, God has given us a wonderful plan of redemption and it’s available to all people. To call on God in the wrong way is to fail to call on God at all, so we need to pursue His offering now, while our heads and thoughts are clear. Because your life is so very temporary, make the best of your time in the present by seeking after God and calling on the Lord Jesus for your salvation. As Paul states as clearly as possible, “I tell you, now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation.” 2 Corinthians 6:2
A voice says, "Cry out." And I said, "What shall I cry?" "All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the LORD blows on them. Surely the people are grass. The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever." Amen.
Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that.” James 4:15
If you’re ever talking to someone about future plans like traveling, starting a business, etc. and they say “I’ll be doing that, the Lord willing” they’re obeying this particular verse of the Bible. Instead of speaking as if their plans are certain, they’re willing to acknowledge that God is sovereign and our decisions and hopes are based solely on His allowance of them coming to completion.
This attitude does several things –
1) It rightly includes credit to the Lord for achievements in our life.
2) It removes from us the stain of failure should our plans not come to fruition.
3) It keeps us living in the Spirit because we’re ever-conscious of His guiding power – in all matters.
As God allows or restrains the intentions of the wicked, how can we expect to land safely at the next airport without the Lord’s protection? As God is in control of the natural forces, how can we expect to climb a mountain during an earthquake? As God is in control of our very heartbeat and breath, how can we make plans to see our children’s marriage apart from His allowance of it? As God likewise controls the lives of others, how can we expect even one more visit from our father or mother? Every moment is precious and every moment is controlled completely by Him. Therefore, whatever we plan, it should be with the understanding that it is only if the Lord is willing to allow it to occur.
Lord, how often I sin by making plans and not including you in them! Forgive me for looking to the future and thinking that I have any control over it at all. I can only hope for what I wish, but in the end I must rely on Your open hand to provide it. Please remind me of today’s verse as I make my plans in the future. Amen.
As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. James 4:16
Why is boasting or bragging evil? Think it through and you’ll see. If a woman is exceptionally lovely, wasn’t it a gift of her birth? What if she highlights herself to look beautiful – then isn’t this temporary and false? If someone is a natural musician, how can they brag about what they were born with? Suppose they worked hard to become a musician because they lacked natural talent – where did the drive to learn their skill come from? If you’re born into a wealthy family, what did you do to deserve it? But what if you became wealthy by playing the lottery – wasn’t this providence and beyond yourself? Or what if you worked hard and made great wealth? Again, where did the ability, time, and circumstance come from to allow you to become rich?
It doesn’t matter what the issue, what the circumstance, or what the possession, it all ultimately came from one Source – the Creator. Likewise, each breath we take is from His goodness to us. Every heartbeat is ultimately under His control. If you don’t believe this, then go back and watch videos of the 911 attack or click on any of a host of You Tube videos that caught death in the act. None of those people expected what was coming and their plans for the next moment were in vain. How much more tenuous are our long-term plans. Each moment is precious and every sunrise is a gift. Don’t squander your life pursuing the wind, but instead consider Solomon’s sound advice –
Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, "I find no pleasure in them"…
From this, Solomon goes on to point out the many ways death arrives. Now is the time of God’s favor; remember Him now.
Forgive me O Lord for taking credit for the blessings You’ve provided. Forgive me also for boasting about a future which is within Your control alone. Give me a sound and wise attitude toward those things which You have provided. Let me ever acknowledge that they came from You, belong to You, and will return to You. Amen.
If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them. James 4:17
Sin can be divided up in multiple ways, but the three main categories of all sin are:
1) Sins of commission
2) Sins of omission
3) Sins of the mind
We often focus on sins of commission – things that we actually do wrong, like stealing, adultery, lying, etc. These make for great sermons and are what the law is mostly based on. The majority of The Ten Commandments are things we’re told not to do – Do not lie, for example. When we do, we commit a sin of commission. Sins of the mind are good to use when witnessing to others –
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Matthew 5:27, 28
Our thoughts reveal our corrupt nature and show us how far we really are from holiness. Even if we don’t actually commit adultery or murder, our intent condemns us. The commandment “Do not covet” falls under this category.
The third type of sin, which is of omission, is no less wrong and covers a vast part of the sin in our lives. We know we should do something – that it’s morally right to do it – and yet we make excuses to avoid doing it. James says that when this occurs, it is sin. What does all this tell us – that we really, really need Jesus. We may not have committed adultery, but we sure have thought about it. We may not have stolen, but we failed to stop the person accompanying us when they stole. Such sins separate us from God and only Jesus can restore us. Praise the Lord for Jesus!
Lord, I freely admit that I’ve committed every type of sin mentioned above. I’ve done that which I ought not to have done. I’ve left undone those things I should have done. I’ve also intended evil in my heart towards others, even though I didn’t act upon it. I know all of this is sin and I can only thank You and praise You for Your great mercy, revealed in Jesus. Amen.
Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you. James 5:1
One of the great mistakes of our society, and one from which Christians are not immune, is to make assumptions based on wealth:
1) God favors me because I’m rich;
2) I am important because I’m rich;
3) My wealth will save me during times of crisis.
On today’s TV, there are a host of companies and commercials which speak of the security of gold. But when the ball drops and the economy collapses, that gold will be useless – just as it was in Ezekiel’s time –
They will throw their silver into the streets, and their gold will be treated as a thing unclean. Their silver and gold will not be able to deliver them in the day of the LORD’s wrath. I will not satisfy their hunger or fill their stomachs, for it has caused them to stumble into sin. Ezekiel 7:19
What is the time of the LORD’s wrath? Read the terrifying words of Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28. Words so appalling that despite the gruesome TV we sit and watch each Halloween, those shows can’t even compare to the reality of God’s wrath –
The most gentle and sensitive woman among you—so sensitive and gentle that she would not venture to touch the ground with the sole of her foot—will begrudge the husband she loves and her own son or daughter the afterbirth from her womb and the children she bears. For in her dire need she intends to eat them secretly because of the suffering your enemy will inflict on you during the siege of your cities. Deuteronomy 28:56, 57
If you’re trusting in wealth, gold and silver, or fancy objects then your trust is in vain. Weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you. Instead, be secure in the joyous covering of Christ and the hope of the rapture of the saints. Those left behind will face unimaginable sorrow.
Lord Jesus, let my soul delight in You alone. Let my very life be dedicated to You and Your service. And Lord, may my eyes never stray from Your glory to any lesser object – no, not even gold or gems. Amen.
Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. James 5:2
James really goes on the attack against worldly wealth. The very thing most people treasure above all else is the thing that’s most fleeting – just ask Mike Tyson. During his boxing career, it’s estimated that he made over $200 million. However, after a few years, he was looking for food in dumpsters. Obviously, he wasn’t very prudent about how he handled his assets, but even those who are exceptionally careful or watchful over large accumulations of wealth have later decided that a dive from the 14th floor was preferable to being poor. We simply can’t rely on money as a good indicator of what our status will be in 24 hours. Likewise, James mentions moths having eaten our clothes. To understand this properly, take this in context of the times. Paul, when writing to Timothy, said,
“When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas…” 2 Timothy 4:13
He made this request because clothing was exceptionally valuable in ancient times and many people had a single outfit to wear. Those who had more were considered wealthy. To flaunt flashy outfits was similar to flaunting lots of money and showed an arrogance which, unfortunately, hasn’t changed even today. Instead, we put value in labels and designers. To wear something by a noted designer often leads to feelings of superiority over others. But James states that this type of attitude is shallow and reflects poor priorities. Instead of trusting in money or fancy clothing, let us trust wholeheartedly in the Lord – the Everlasting God.
Heavenly Father, forgive my times of trusting in wealth, cars, clothing, or any other thing which is so temporary and uncertain. Give me wisdom to use these things without loving them; to enjoy them without clinging to them; and to trust in no earthly thing, but in You alone. This I ask that You will be glorified and I will be found faultless in Your eyes. Amen.
Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. James 5:3
Imagine the final moments of the victims of the volcano at Pompeii. The volcano exploded and the fire and ash came at the people like a freight train. The wealthy along with the poor were snuffed out within a few seconds. That moment in time is recorded for the ages – people grasping their children; people dying in their rooms; people holding onto… their gold. The last moments of many people’s lives are spent grasping for something they simply can’t take with them. It’s certainly the case that if some had not tried to hold on to their money they may have escaped with their lives. But, as Forrest Gump correctly put it, “Stupid is as stupid does.”
People trust in wealth, they boast about wealth, and they die because of their wealth. In the end, it did them no good at all – a few moments of history spent in leisure and ended in futility. Solomon speaks about the life of the laborer and the life of the rich. Really, which has it better - the man who sleeps well, even if a little hungry, or the man who can’t sleep though he’s filled with cake and ice cream?
The sleep of a laboring man is sweet,
Whether he eats little or much;
But the abundance of the rich will not permit him to sleep.
There is a severe evil which I have seen under the sun:
Riches kept for their owner to his hurt. Ecclesiastes 5:12, 13
Wealth, fancy living, gold, silver, flashy cars, and a life of leisure will testify against us when it’s our hope. There’s nothing wrong with wealth and abundance as long as it’s kept in proper perspective. But when it consumes our lives it becomes sin to us. Let’s be careful where we put our hopes and what we’re reaching for as we head into eternity. Where is your anchor at the day of your death? Let it be in Christ Jesus alone.
Lord, I thank You for the wonderful abundance You’ve given me in this life. I’m grateful for the things You’ve blessed me with. But Lord, let them never take my heart and eyes away from You. Help me to keep my priorities straight. When I reach out for the last time, may my hand reach out for You. Amen.
Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. James 5:4
James lived in a time when almost all work was physical, and a large percentage of that was agrarian. In fact, throughout its pages the Bible deals with agricultural themes to make spiritual applications. When Jesus speaks of the wheat harvest, He’s referring to the harvest of human souls prepared for the kingdom. When we read of the grape harvest, it’s referring to God’s wrath being poured out as He stomps them in His fury.
Today’s verse isn’t necessarily spiritual in nature and we need to be careful not to over-spiritualize every verse. Rather, James is following along in the same line he’s spoken of for the past few verses – greed. Instead of paying the workers their wages, the wealthy were holding onto their money longer than necessary. Perhaps they were saying to the workers “I’ll pay you when you finish the job.” However, just like today the common people relied on having their pay immediately. To withhold the day’s wages was to deprive them of their evening meal.
Imagine if your boss originally promised to give you a paycheck each Friday but later came on payday and said it would be bi-weekly. At the end of the second week, he comes again and says “I’m going to give you one big check at the end of the month.” You’d rightfully be very upset as you agreed to work for a weekly paycheck. James says that conducting affairs in such a manner is sin. If you’re in a position of handling other people’s pay, make sure you deal fairly with them, lest you be found a sinner as well.
Do not take advantage of a hired worker who is poor and needy, whether that worker is a fellow Israelite or a foreigner residing in one of your towns. Pay them their wages each day before sunset, because they are poor and are counting on it. Otherwise they may cry to the LORD against you, and you will be guilty of sin. Deuteronomy 24:14, 15
Heavenly Father, it’s wonderful to read the pages of Your word and to see how tenderly You care for those who labor. Give me a heart to care for others even as You do and keep me from the sin of greed. Instead, may I deal fairly in all ways as I handle the money You have entrusted to me. Amen.
You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. James 5:5
James reaches back to the Song of Moses for the thought he presents to us today –
But Jeshurun grew fat and kicked;
You grew fat, you grew thick,
You are obese!
Then he forsook God who made him,
And scornfully esteemed the Rock of his salvation. Deuteronomy 32:15
James is writing to the 1st century Jewish community and reminding them of the fulfillment of what was prophesied by Moses. Don’t miss the significance of the greater picture though.
Just as the Jewish people had become well-fed and fat, and just as they had kicked, so have the nations that once followed the Lord. As prosperity comes, so along with it come ease and a dulling of the senses concerning the things of God.
So it is in America today. As prosperity, luxury, and self-indulgence have become a way of life, in equal measure have come immorality, turning from the truth of the Bible, and a more liberal approach to life, politics, friendships, etc. Hard work is no longer rewarded, but instead is taxed to feed the lazy. National feelings of devotion are replaced with a desire to burn the flag and complain about even the thought of defending against aggression. Murderers are given light sentences and abortionists are given honors and accolades.
Likewise, preachers water down the truth of Scripture and breathe out easy messages of prosperity and comfort. Surely we have fattened ourselves in the day of slaughter. We must repent and turn back to God or we will be consumed in our unrighteousness. Please take time to pray for repentance and revival in our land today.
Heavenly Father, what Your word proclaims is true – that which has been will be again. Just as Israel grew fat and kicked, so have the nations which once proclaimed Your message. Likewise, denominations that once held to the truth of the Bible now dismiss it as myth. Turn our hearts before Your great and awesome Day of judgment arrives. Amen.
You have condemned and murdered the innocent one, who was not opposing you. James 5:6
James is speaking against the rich and those who oppress others. They’ve withheld the wages of those around them, have lived in luxury, and have grown fat while others have been deprived. Today he accuses them of condemning and murdering the innocent in their race to the top of this mountain of greed.
It’s easy for us to look at the oppressors of the world and judge them for their actions, but in the end, doesn’t today’s verse also point back to us? Each of us has participated in the crucifixion of Christ. It is our sin, our greed, and our wayward lives which necessitated His cross.
In the movie The Passion of the Christ, there is a short clip of a Roman soldier’s hand bringing the hammer down on the nail which was piercing Jesus’ hand. During the shooting of the film, Mel Gibson, stepped out of the background, grabbed the hammer, and the shot was filmed with his hand as the Roman soldier. He said that his life made him a participant in the death of Jesus and this was his way of acknowledging that. As troubling as it may seem, we have condemned and murdered the innocent One – Jesus our Lord.
May we look with horror on the sin in our lives which brought about such a terrible demonstration of its penalty. Likewise, may we look with gratitude to our Heavenly Father who loved us enough to offer His Son in our place. Jesus took our stripes, our mocking, and our cross. And after the turmoil of His soul, He saw the light of life – having prevailed over death. It is with grateful hearts that we can anticipate freedom from the bonds of death as well. The murdered innocent One has prevailed.
See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?
Isaac Watts, 1707
Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. James 5:7
Compared to the Old Testament, there’s not a great deal of predictive prophecy in the New. Most of it comes from Jesus’ words and from the book of Revelation. Along with these, there are a few passages in Acts and the epistles which tell us about coming events. For the most part, James is not a book of prophecy but today’s verse very well may be an indication of when the Lord’s coming is drawing near.
James tells his readers to be patient “until the Lord’s coming.” He then tells us that just as the farmer waits for his crops, we also should wait. The crops will be ready when they’re ready and not a moment sooner. Likewise, we need to be patient because Jesus isn’t going to return when we want, but only when the time of harvest has come.
Next James says that the farmer waits patiently for the “autumn and spring rains.” Could this be referring to the rains in the land of Israel? When the Romans destroyed Israel and exiled her people, they cut down all the trees in the land for building siege-works. This changed the climate and only sparse rain came each year for the past 2000 years. However, since the Jewish people have returned to the land, they’ve drained the swamps, cleared the land, and planted millions of trees. Because of this, the land now receives both the autumn and spring rains once again.
Is this an indication that Jesus also will be coming soon? If you want to know the times, there’s no better place to look than to the land of Israel. As events there unfold, the stage is again being set for the people to take a prominent position in world events, culminating in a rebuilt temple, seven years of tribulation on earth, and climaxing in the glorious return of Jesus. Before these things happen though, the rapture will occur. Are you ready? Jesus is coming.
He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.
You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. James 5:8
Never mind that this was written 2000 years ago. The verse needs to be taken in its proper context. James was talking to the recipients of his letter about being patient, just as the farmer is patient. We discussed that waiting on the spring and autumn rains could very well be a prophecy concerning the return of these rains to Israel. If this is so, then any time frame – 100 years or 25000 years has no bearing on the statement.
Additionally, the Lord’s coming for each of us really isn’t that far away regardless of when He actually returns to earth. We’ll all be called home after a short walk on this earth. We need, therefore, to stand firm and be patient each day we live. None of us knows the hour of our death, nor do we know the time of the Lord’s second coming. So we simply need to be about His business at all times.
Don’t be misguided by preachers or Bible teachers who deny the rapture of the church or a future return of Christ after a 7 year tribulation period. Christ is coming for His church at the rapture. This will be followed by a 7 year dispensation where Israel is again at the center of attention.
After this, there will be a literal 1000 year reign of Christ on earth. These verses are to be taken literally, but are often dismissed as allegory because they differentiate between the Church and Israel. If you believe the Church replaced Israel, then you will inevitably come to the wrong conclusion about future events. But if you believe, as the Bible teaches, that Israel has a specific role which is yet to be fulfilled, then you will be able to understand the other future events in their proper context.
Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 1 Corinthians 15:51, 52
Lord, open my eyes to understand where my doctrine is wrong and correct it according to the truth of Your word. May my thoughts on what is to come align properly with future events. Also, give me the ability to defend the integrity of Your word concerning these glorious events! Amen.
Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door! James 5:9
If you remember what was analyzed a day ago, this and the surrounding verses may very well refer to the time of the second coming of Christ. Let’s look at the set of verses as a whole –
Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!
1) We’re told to be patient until the Lord’s coming. This tells us it is something that must be waited on and can refer to any amount of time; it is indeterminate in nature.
2) The farmer waits on the time of harvest and the Bible speaks of the coming kingdom in terms of various types of harvests.
3) Just as the farmer needs to be patient for the rains to come, so the people waiting on the Lord should wait. If (and this is speculation) the coming spring and autumn rains refers to the return of both rains to the land of Israel which has finally happened after 2000 years, then the return of these rains may indicate the general time of the Lord’s return.
4) As we wait, we need to not grumble – judgment, though seemingly a long way off, is certainly coming. And,
5) when the times indicated arrive, the Judge will be standing at the door. This could (again speculation) be referring to the rapture as indicated in Revelation 4:1 – “After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” At the rapture, the trumpet will sound, the door to heaven will be open, and the people of God will be translated in the twinkling of an eye. Then the door will be closed and judgment will fall on the unbelieving, unrepentant world.
Are we close to the return of Jesus? Well one thing is for certain – we’re 2000 years closer than when the New Testament was penned! Keep looking up, Jesus is coming – be it soon or be it a while more, Jesus is coming.
What a great and glorious hope we have, O Christ. Just to see Your face, O Jesus, just to see Your face! We wait on You with antici….. pation! Even so, Come Lord Jesus. Amen.
Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. James 5:10
James asked us to wait patiently on the Lord – despite the trials and long years. Just as a farmer has to wait and hope for the rains to come, it’s our lot to accept whatever comes our way while being patient in the process. If this includes suffering, then we’re to accept it for what it is.
So much for the “prosperity gospel” where everyone gets wealthy and lives carefree lives after accepting Jesus! Today James reminds us that the very people who received God’s word were often the ones who suffered the most. Jeremiah was cast into a cistern full of mud so that he sank into it; Amos’ life was threatened by King Amaziah; Isaiah was told to walk around naked and barefoot for three years; Ezekiel’s wife was taken from him and he was instructed to not mourn over her. Others were placed in stocks, stoned, deprived of food, and tortured.
These great heroes of the faith accepted what God chose for them because they understood that God is sovereign. He created them and has every right to portion out both blessings and hardships. Likewise, we need to accept the good and the bad, the joyous and that which saddens, and prosperity and poverty. If we can carry a like attitude during all circumstances then we have a strong and grounded faith. It is this type of faith that God respects and acknowledges with favor. When we can look beyond the moment and see the eternal rewards in store, then we have truly come to that comfortable spot where nothing can truly steal our joy.
As the Psalmist of old said, “I called on the LORD in distress; The LORD answered me and set me in a broad place. The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” Psalm 118:5, 6
Heavenly Father, it’s easy to read words of courage and strength during suffering, but it’s much harder to actually live them. Give me the ability to praise You and to accept what You have given me – good or bad – that I may be a true child of faith. May You be the One who is glorified through my life. Amen.
As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy. James 5:11
Most people know at least a portion of the story of Job. Chapter 1 says, “This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil. He had seven sons and three daughters, and he owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred donkeys, and had a large number of servants. He was the greatest man among all the people of the East.”
However, he lost everything mentioned here and was left with only a nagging wife and boils covering his body from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head. Despite it all, Job never swayed in his convictions and continued to praise and exalt God. He understood perfectly that God truly is “full of compassion and mercy.”
In the end, the book of Job records, “The LORD blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys. And he also had seven sons and three daughters.” As you can see, job was given a double portion of everything he’d lost; God restored to him and added more. The sadness and pain of the time between his loss and restoration was swept away. The Lord promises to do this for us as well.
Despite facing trials, loss, and death we can have complete confidence that all wrongs will be righted. This is not a guarantee for prosperity in this life, so be careful not being misdirected into believing that. Instead, we have a greater guarantee – that of eternal life and no lack or want forever. This has been guaranteed to all who follow Jesus Christ. If you’re facing the years of trial, sadness, or loss just remember they have an end. The Lord is ever gracious and merciful and He knows how to care for His beloved children. Let’s praise Him for this –
Yes Lord! We praise You and give You glory and honor for Your tenderness and care. Despite our trials and hardships, we know that You have promised full and complete restoration. May You be praised! May You be praised. Glory, honor, and majesty! May You be praised. Amen.
Above all, my brothers and sisters, do not swear—not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. All you need to say is a simple “Yes” or “No.” Otherwise you will be condemned. James 5:12
We’ve just read 4 1/2 chapters of James imploring us to live in certain ways, reject various evil attitudes and practices, and to be careful in all kinds of situations. Now, he comes to today’s thought and says “above all.” In other words, this is both hugely important and will guide us to where we can easily attain the other admonitions he’s given us.
“Above all” just simply say “Yes” or “No.” Think on how terrific life would be if everyone stuck to this and could be trusted with their simple vow! Instead, when someone makes a claim, they’ll often add in, “Really, I swear!” James says this is sin. If you can’t be trusted with the statement without such a vow, then you can’t be trusted when you make it with such a vow. Adding in more only makes it worse – “Really, I swear on my mother’s grave!” Now you’ve not only added folly to your vow by swearing, but you’ve committed idolatry by including an oath on something other than the Creator.
By doing this, you’ve exalted your “mother’s grave” above God! Deuteronomy 6:13 tells us to “Fear the LORD your God, serve him only and take your oaths in his name.” These are the only oaths that can be acceptable because there is no higher vow that can be made. This is why the testimony of “atheists” is of no value. Their moral corruption can never be trusted under any circumstances.
The state of Tennessee understands this and includes in their constitution this statement – “No person who denies the being of God, or a future state of rewards and punishments, shall hold any office in the civil department of this State.” If they deny God, then nothing they say can be trusted. When you speak, may your words be of such a high caliber that you can be trusted with a mere “Yes” or “No.”
Lord, I know men and women of high integrity and wish to be considered among their ranks. Give me wisdom when I speak to utter words that can be trusted by all. And give me the greater wisdom to follow through with the words I’ve spoken – confirming the trust placed in them by others. Amen.
Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. James 5:13
Today’s verse ought to be the norm and not the exception, but as is too often the case among us, we fail to put the admonitions of the Bible into practice. Instead of praying when we have trouble we tend to fret, worry, lose sleep, get angry, etc. James tells us that when we face trouble we should pray. This should be the first and not the last thing we do when troubles come.
When times of joy and happiness come, we should sing songs of praise. Too often we skip this step and go on to celebrating with friends, reveling in our prosperity, and being excited about how well things are going. But the first thing we should do, and the thing we should constantly do, is to sing songs of praise. How often do you stop and really thank the Lord when something good comes your way? How often do you simply break out in a song of gratitude for the wonders that keep showing up on the doorstep of your life?
This isn’t something that only James thought of. Twice in his writings Paul tells us to express our joy in this way –
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. Colossians 3:16
If you’re facing troubles, get on your knees and pray. Ask friends to join you down there if the problem is big enough. God listens and God responds to the prayers of His children. And when things get corrected and life hands you blessings and happiness, don’t forget to respond to the Lord with songs of joy and psalms of thanksgiving. He is worthy of the praise you send His way!
Heavenly Father, how often I fret, worry, and have stress when I ought to be sending my prayers to you. And likewise, how unfaithful I am to acknowledge Your goodness to me with simple words of thanks or even songs of praise. Forgive me for my thoughtlessness and turn my thoughts to correct priorities in the future. To Your honor I pray. Amen.
Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. James 5:14
To be honest in advance, today’s verse and the following two (15 and 16) produce lots of tension and disagreement in denominations around the world. A conservative reading of these and all such verses is probably the best approach. Oil was used in ancient times as a healing agent just as Neosporin or Vicks vapor rub is today. This is the significance of Jesus’ words in Luke 10:34 –
“So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him.”
Therefore, when it says that the elders of the church are to take the actions given in the verse, we should read them in the context of the time and situation. They are to pray over the afflicted person as indicated. Prayer is the single most effective tool we have in the battle against illness. No matter how potent the medicine, no matter how skilled the doctor, no matter how tender the hands of the nurses – without the Lord’s providential blessing then no healing will result.
Concerning the oil however, if this is an ancient remedy for healing, then the symbolism of the gesture is that in addition to prayer, effective medicines are to be given to the person. To assume that an application of oil is going to produce the healing effects can lead to over-spiritualization of the account and even to disappointment and confusion when healing isn’t effected. Oil of whatever type doesn’t have any particular magic qualities, so be careful that the credit for any healing is directed to the Lord and that appropriate medical attention is given as well.
Please give us wisdom concerning illness, disease, and physical trauma that occurs in our lives. Let us not forsake the intelligence you’ve given us to train doctors and other health-care officials. Likewise, may we not overlook healing medicines which have been produced to bring about healing. But above all, let us never forget that prayer should be our first and last choice during the healing process. Amen.
And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. James 5:15
This verse has caused a lot of dissension and confusion between denominations. Is this a blanket guarantee that if someone is anointed with oil in the name of the Lord and prayed over with faithful prayers that he or she will be made well? We need to go to examples in the Bible to see.
1.) Paul had an affliction in his body (see 2 Corinthians 12 and Galatians 4) that he desired to be removed. He asked the Lord three times to remove it, but in the end it remained. Instead the Lord’s grace was sufficient.
2.) In Philippians 2, Epaphroditus was ill to the point of death. He did recover, but if today’s verse were a blanket guarantee, there would have been no point for even including his condition.
3.) In 1 Timothy 5, we read of Timothy’s chronic illness and Paul’s recommendation that he drink a little wine to take care of it.
4.) In 2 Timothy 4:19, 20 we read, “Greet Priscilla and Aquila and the household of Onesiphorus. Erastus stayed in Corinth, and I left Trophimus sick in Miletus.” Paul “left Trophismus sick in Miletus.” Either Paul wasn’t on the healing bandwagon, or he understood that the Lord heals those he chooses to heal and allows sickness in those He so chooses.
Clearly then, not all illnesses are covered in today’s verse. All things are in the Lord’s providence and if it is His will to heal, then healing will come about.
There is no such thing as a “faith healer” but there is “faith healing.” God responds according to His sovereign plan and not according to the wiles of TV Evangelists and unhealthy teachings. Likewise, it is imprudent at best to hold to the doctrines of denominations that forbid medicines, surgery, and the healing hand of trained physicians.
Be extremely careful to take all things in context and, above all, acknowledge the Lord’s sovereignty in the healing process. Always let your prayers reflect that His will be done.
Heavenly Father, forgive us for not allowing Your hand of providence to rule our hearts when dealing with sickness, disease, and even death. Yes, you have instructed us to pray for healing and restoration, but too often we pray according to our desires without including Your will. Help us to always remember this in the future that You may be glorified. Amen.
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. James 5:16
Today’s verse pretty much sums up the entire biblical basis for Roman Catholic confessionals and priests serving as intermediaries in the forgiveness process; one verse taken out of context to justify this. Rather, the Bible very clearly proclaims in 1 Timothy, “For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus.” If Christ is our Mediator, then there is absolutely no need for priests to serve in this manner. Further, confession in a confessional isn’t what’s implied here. Instead healing and restoration comes about by simply getting the matter out instead of carrying it inside – something that leads to stress, ulcers, neuroses, etc. Although descriptive in nature, the following account from Acts is what James is referring to –
Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed what they had done. A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas. Acts 19:18, 19
As you can see, these people openly confessed their wrongdoing. The result was that the “word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power.” This is the goal of confession and prayers for healing – that the Lord may be glorified and that we may be healed. Take all things in context and don’t be kept in bondage by misapplication of verses which leads to the gain of those who misapply them.
Thank You Jesus for being our Mediator! Help us to remember that it is God who forgives and it is You who sends our petitions to the Father. You are the Bridge of restoration and healing. All glory to You – our precious Advocate on high! Amen.
Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. James 5:17
A treasure from the New Testament is found here. The account of Elijah and the drought in 1 Kings doesn’t give the amount of time that the drought lasted; it merely says “And it came to pass after many days…” However, both Jesus and James tell us it was three and a half years.
But I tell you truly, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a great famine throughout all the land; Luke 4:25
Many times, it’s important to read both testaments in order to get the full picture of a particular issue. Certain psalms which record no author in the Old Testament are credited to David in the New. Various facts about Abraham and other OT figures can only be known by studying Acts, Hebrews, etc. The point in today’s verse is that Elijah was merely a man – a prophet chosen by God, yes, but only a man.
By his word, it didn’t rain for 3 ½ years. James is saying that we’re humans just like Elijah and therefore have the ability, by faith, to have effective prayer lives which can truly move mountains. If you feel your prayers aren’t being answered, make sure they align with God’s will and then have faith that they’re heard and will be responded to according to His great plan for us.
Several years ago in Georgia, rainfall stopped and water became scarce. The leader of the state, Sonny Perdue, spoke these words on the capitol steps, “We do believe in miracles. We believe you are the miracle Creator – the Creator that established the water and the land, and the air, and even us. God, we need You, we need rain.” The next day it rained. Yes, God hears and responds to the prayers of His people when they humble themselves.
What a great and awesome God You are! That You would bend Your ear to the people You created and respond according to their pleas is simply amazing! How can we not praise You and give You the glory You are due! Thank You for the rain, thank You for healing, thank You for attending to our every need when asked in faith. Glory to You, O God! Amen.
Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops. James 5:18
Today’s verse completes the thought given on Elijah. Remember yesterday said, “Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years.” After the set time, Elijah – the man of God, prayed for rain and it came. There is a point to consider about Elijah’s prayer for rain. Take time to read this from the account as it’s recorded in 1 Kings –
And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; then he bowed down on the ground, and put his face between his knees, and said to his servant, “Go up now, look toward the sea.” So he went up and looked, and said, “There is nothing.” And seven times he said, “Go again.” Then it came to pass the seventh time, that he said, “There is a cloud, as small as a man’s hand, rising out of the sea!” So he said, “Go up, say to Ahab, ‘Prepare your chariot, and go down before the rain stops you.’” 1 Kings 18:42-44
If you’ll notice, Elijah prayed seven times before the cloud appeared. This should be a lesson to us all. If our prayers seem to have gone unheard the first time, we need to get on our knees and make them again, and again, and…. again if necessary. Perseverance demonstrates a heartfelt desire. It also demonstrates faith that you believe your prayer is effective. If we quit praying after the first round, what does that say about our faith? “Oh well, I guess God isn’t listening.” But repeated and heartfelt prayers indicate that we really believe God is capable of granting our petition. If we didn’t believe this, we wouldn’t continue. So have faith, be persistent, and wear out the knees on your pants if necessary. God does hear and God does respond to the faithful prayers of His children.
Lord God, forgive me for giving up so quickly when my prayers seem to have been unanswered. Give me a determined and dogged approach to my prayer life – something so powerful that heaven and earth hear and the rains come. And when they do, may you give me the sense to turn and thank You for the blessing of a favorable response. Amen.
Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back,… James 5:19
Just a side note before we look over today’s verse. The newest edition of the NIV, the 2010 edition, states in this verse, “My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back,…” It does no good at all to change God’s word in order to be politically correct, but that is what the translating committee has done with their new revision. They’ve added to the Bible and I can no longer recommend the NIV for either study or general reading. Please remember that it is God, not man, who determines what His word should say. He allows man to translate it, but there must be acceptable standards. When God chooses to use the masculine only, then the translators have no authority to add to it. When He chooses to use the masculine and feminine, then that’s what the translators should use.
Today’s verse is incomplete without verse 20, but we can still draw some thought out of it.
1) People do wander from the truth after having accepted it. Peter, in his second epistle, states that some people can actually forget that they’ve been saved. If that doesn’t cry out for eternal salvation, I don’t know what does!
2) Those that have strayed from the truth can be brought back. They have not lost their salvation, nor have they committed some unpardonable sin by straying.
However, tomorrow we’ll see what some of the consequences are when we do fall away. Are you keeping an eye out concerning your walk with Christ? It’s so easy to let a day go by without reading the Bible, then another, and then another. Likewise, when we let our prayers lapse, it’s so much easier to continue down that path. And even if you’re walking with Christ faithfully, are you making sure your family and friends are as well? Keep an eye on those you love and help them to walk with the Lord and not stray – turn them back and you’ll be doing them a favor and pleasing the Lord immensely!
Lord, help me to be watchful over my walk with You. Also, help me to keep an eye on my family and friends. We all need to be re-directed from time to time, so make me a watchful and faithful servant that I may be there when others stumble in their walk. To Your glory O Lord! Amen.
…let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins. James 5:20
This is the last verse of the book of James so today would be a great day to tell others about the DBV so they can join the next book we start! Please consider who would benefit from receiving it and pass it on! James has been a wonderful journey and I’ve learned a great deal while preparing these for you. I hope they’ve blessed you as well.
When it says turning a sinner from the error of his way will “save a soul from death” it can be looked at in two ways – physical death and spiritual death. As this is talking about one of the brethren (see previous verse), then it must be referring to physical death. When a person strays from biblical precepts, they don’t lose their salvation, but they can lose their life.
Such was the case with Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5. They lied and paid the penalty for it. When we walk away from the Lord, we can enter into abusive behavior – drunkenness, drugs, etc. which can shorten our life. Additionally, because we bear the name of the Lord and have received His Holy Spirit, we put His name to shame. Because He guards His name jealously, He may call us home to keep it from being further blasphemed.
These are the things that James is telling us. In addition to this, when we’re brought back to repentance, it will cover a multitude of sins which would have otherwise been committed as well as bringing forth forgiveness for those which were committed during the wayward walk. There are a multitude of blessings which come about from leading a soul back to the proper path, so look around you with open eyes and when you discover a backslider, help them back to restoration! The Lord will be glorified and the wayward soul will be saved from death. Be responsible in your care and attention of your fellow believers.
Thank You, O God, for the wonderful lessons of the Book of James. It’s been a splendid time of learning and growth as we’ve peered into the glorious words You breathed out through Him. May we take to heart the lessons of this book and always bring great glory to you through their application. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.