James 3:14-16 NKJV
I am amazed by how modern day themes that turn up in scripture are common themes from 2000 - 4000 years ago. I mean, you’d think man would have evolved a little bit by now!
Two themes James mentioned in James 3:14 are bitter envy and being self-seeking.
Seriously…in many ways those two themes describe our culture today!
In James 3:14-16 he wrote,”But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.”
This wisdom, which James refers to as earthly wisdom is the exact opposite of the wisdom he wrote about in James 3:13.
This wisdom is envious of others and is always trying to “play one up”. The problem with that is that it’s ‘a game’. That means…it’s not real.
Another thing to note from James 3:14 is that according to James bitter envy and self-seeking seem to go hand in hand.
Think about it…do you know anyone who is envious of others?
Maybe they’re always envious about a neighbor’s new car, or even their new ‘latest and greatest barbecue grill’? And have you noticed that people obsessed with envy are always envious about some new thing?
That means they are constantly striving for something they don’t have. They do not have peace in their life.
Being self-seeking has similar characteristics. Because they are obsessed with themselves, they missed the love that could have been theirs. They are so in love with themselves that the people in their world are passing them by!
In James 3:14b, he shifts ever so slightly to remind his readers that when they boast and brag about themselves, they are lying and not facing the truth.
That causes us to wonder…what IS the truth?
What is the truth that Jesus brought and displayed on earth?
According John 15:12 Jesus said, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” Then, later in that chapter in John 15:17, Jesus reiterates those words, “These things I command you, that you love one another.”
It’s almost like Jesus was saying, love one another and by the way, LOVE ONE ANOTHER!
But how to we do that? How do we love one another? I mean, REALLY love one another? In and of ourselves we really don’t know how to love one another. There are many different kinds of love on earth, and at any given point in time we may love several different people in several different ways. However, generally speaking we choose who we will love and only a few people choose to love the unlovable.
As I read John 15, Jesus isn’t talking about loving a few people. Jesus is talking about loving people…all people.
That is like the ultimate difficult thing to do.
The greatest thing about John 15 is that Jesus gave the “how to” answer before he gave the command. In John 15:5, Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the Branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without me you can do nothing.”
So, we’ve already established the fact that in general we don’t know how to really love all people. So, without actually speaking about the issue, Jesus knew that we cannot love all people on our own. So in John 15:7 Jesus lays it out clear as day.
I am the vine.
You are the branches.
Abide in (come to) me.
I will abide in you.
We will bear fruit.
The fruit is the love.
THAT is how we love.
I don’t know about you, but in my life the best way I’ve found to abide in Jesus is to simple “sit” in the presence of God. Sometimes I tell God about things that are bothering me. Sometimes I pray for people I know who are suffering. Sometimes I just sit in silence.
There are times when I feel great peace and there are times when I suffer because I feel how much others are hurting. It seems like there are thousands of emotions and ways to sit with God. The main thing I’ve learned is that I need is to be connected to the vine.
I need that.
Then, in John 15:7, Jesus says, “IF you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.”
Jesus also promised that when we are in Him and He is in US, we can ask Him anything and it will be done. I consider that a bold statement. I have learned that intent here is important. I’ve learned to ask for specific things. It’s best to ask for eternal things that will last.
Finally in John 15:8, Jesus said, “By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be my disciples.”
Envision the tree, the vine, and the branches with fruit, being glorified in God. That is something that will last!
Today’s Spiritual Practice is: Connect to the Vine
Imagine yourself connecting to Jesus the Vine. Ask Jesus to give you love for people, even people who are not lovable. Thank God for the gift.
In God, Deborah