James Afterward, Part Two
James, Chapters 3-5
James 3:1-12, “My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment. For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body. Indeed, we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things.See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh.”
James’ warning in this section was a bit scary for me. He warned those reading his correspondence that they should NOT aspire to be teachers for the word because the teacher will receive “a stricter judgment.”
I have to admit that I knew that before I went to Seminary. I knew God was calling me. I knew Seminary was a difficult journey. I knew post Seminary it would not be an easy life. I knew there would be challenges and various trials.
I said ‘no way’ for several months.
I argued that I was way too old (I was 54 years old).
I was single, working full-time, and was involved with a great prayer ministry at my church. Why Seminary, God? Why now?
I reminded God this was not a great plan, but He persisted so I threw up my hands and applied. I was sure it would take time for them to accept the application and I was counting on that time to get things sorted out. I faxed in the application along with my college transcript from the University of Missouri, Columbia on a Wednesday afternoon. I had a letter of acceptance in my hands the next morning.
Might I add God, this was not what I wanted.
I did not seek it but years later I pray as I study and write. I actually spend more time praying than I spend doing the writing and the illustrations. I learned to rely on God for every lesson.
I am learning that my tongue belongs to God.
Joshua 1:9 (ESV) says, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Not for Evil
James 4:11 says, “Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.”
James warns his readers they are not to use their tongues as an evil weapon. He urges them not to judge each other, because they are called to love one another and rely on God.
John 14:16-17 (ESV) says, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.”
We may have an inclination to judge the law or to judge men with our tongue, but God has given us a helper who will guide us to truth. When we are tempted to judge (and we will be tempted) we need to pray and remember we have Jesus IN us who never leaves us.
In James 4:13-16, we read “Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.
Do not boast with your tongue.
We are told in I Peter 5:6-7 (ESV), “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”
Turn to God that He may exalt you in His time.
James 5:9 wrote, “Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned.”
James reminds us we do not need to spend our time grumbling against one another for God, our mighty God is with us. God will save us. God rejoices over us. God quiets us with His love, and exults us with His song.
We read in Zephaniah 3:17 (ESV), “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”
Only Yes No
Finally, James tells us to use our tongue to say YES or NO. We do not need to take an oath.
Our YES from God and our NO from God is enough. James warned in James 5:12, “But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath. But let your “Yes” be “Yes,” and your “No,” “No,” lest you fall into judgment.”
The Apostle Paul wrote in I Corinthians 3:16 (ESV), “Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you?”
We are God’s Temple. The Spirit of the Living God dwells in us.
Psalm 23:1 (NLT) tells us, “The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need.”
And God IN us IS all we need.
Today’s Spiritual Practice is: Be Thankful
Spend time sitting with God and thanking Him for giving you everything you need.
In God, Deborah