Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Tuesday, 4 October 2022:
Listen to this discussion on 2 Samuel 8 by Dr. J. Vernon McGee: https://www.blueletterbible.org/audio_video/popPlayer.cfm?id=4742&rel=mcgee_j_vernon/2sa
Note: Here is a link to a video overview of James — https://youtu.be/qn-hLHWwRYY
James 1:4 – And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
“Many of us appear to be all right in general, but there are still some areas in which we are careless and lazy; it is not a matter of sin, but the remnants of our carnal life that tend to make us careless. Carelessness is an insult to the Holy Spirit. We should have no carelessness about us either in the way we worship God, or even in the way we eat and drink.
Not only must our relationship to God be right, but the outward expression of that relationship must also be right. Ultimately, God will allow nothing to escape; every detail of our lives is under His scrutiny. God will bring us back in countless ways to the same point over and over again. And He never tires of bringing us back to that one point until we learn the lesson, because His purpose is to produce the finished product. It may be a problem arising from our impulsive nature, but again and again, with the most persistent patience, God has brought us back to that one particular point. Or the problem may be our idle and wandering thinking, or our independent nature and self-interest. Through this process, God is trying to impress upon us the one thing that is not entirely right in our lives.
We have been having a wonderful time in our studies over the revealed truth of God’s redemption, and our hearts are perfect toward Him. And His wonderful work in us makes us know that overall we are right with Him. “Let patience have its perfect work….” The Holy Spirit speaking through James said, “Now let your patience become a finished product.” Beware of becoming careless over the small details of life and saying, “Oh, that will have to do for now.” Whatever it may be, God will point it out with persistence until we become entirely His.” (Oswald Chambers)
James 1:20 – … the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
This is not hard to understand. Christians who have received the grace of God through the blood of Jesus Christ (G.R.A.C.E. – God’s riches at Christ’s expense), who live by grace, and who are called to proclaim the forgiveness and restoration which comes through Jesus, cannot be disposed to anger. There is a righteous anger, which is wholly selfless (an extremely rare thing), but the Bible warns, “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.” (Ephesians 4:26, 27) In the vast majority of cases, there is selfishness and self-centeredness attached to anger, and self-centeredness (even when disguised as concern for others or for ‘justice’) is always contrary to the Gospel and the love of Christ — “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23)
- Isaiah 58:4 — Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to hit with a wicked fist. Fasting like yours this day
will not make your voice to be heard on high.
James 1:26 – If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.
Throughout today’s readings and throughout the entire Bible, we are warned against being deceived by a form of religion which seeks ‘justice’ (too often we want grace when we sin and justice for everyone else) at the expense of God’s command to love unconditionally and to forgive others as God has forgiven us – “…as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” (Colossians 3:13) Take a moment and read Matthew 5:43-48 and Luke 6:27-42. Consider committing these verses to memory.
James 1:26 points out that how you speak to others reveals what is really in your heart. Perhaps only Jesus offers a more powerful statement about careless words than this one – “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:36, 37)
What do your words, particularly when you are offended, reveal to others about the love of Christ and its power to transform a person’s heart? God so loved sinners that while they were still sinning he sent His Son to pay for their (your) sins, that they would not perish but have eternal life and be called children of God (John 3:16; 1 John 3:1; 1 John 4:9). Do your words reveal the same kind of love for sinners? The next time you are mistreated, will you use the opportunity to take up your cross, follow Jesus’ example, and proclaim the Gospel rather than trying to defend yourself?
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 4 October 2022: Let your temperament and your words reflect the grace of God.
- 1 John 3:16 — By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.
- 1 John 4:20 — If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.
- 1 John 4:21 — And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.