James, the brother of Jesus, confronts deceitfulness directly. Perhaps it was because for years, he had personally been so deceived about Who the Messiah is. Our human nature is quick to speak and slow to listen and understand.
James literally opposed the claims that his brother Jesus made. James was not convinced that Jesus was Lord of all until after Jesus died and conquered death and miraculously rose from the dead. James was converted with a private audience with the risen Lord. So too did the brothers of Joseph demonstrate their weakness. They resented the attention that their dad Jacob lavished on his favored son Joseph. When we feel jealousy rising up in us, the fear that we are unequally loved by the Father, we are listening to the Liar. The deceiver can be easily and quickly banished as we use our authority and pronounce “get out in the name of Jesus”! Doubting Thomas doubted, and as we doubt, we are reminded to take captive every thought, and stand on the truth. Our Father loves us and the Holy Spirit is mighty to save as we allow Him full access.
James addressed the twelve scattered tribes of Israel. He was a man of determined prayer, and a devoted servant of Jesus Christ. His words exhort all those who have an ear to hear what the Spirit says about a faith that is deeper than intellectual beliefs. His letter basically offers everyone a practical guide to living effectively. A faith that comes by hearing what the Spirit is saying requires a person to ask the Spirit, to rely on the Spirit, and to recognize Wisdom.
“Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.” (Jam 1:19)
James had not been quick to listen to his brother, and his jealousy was exposed by the Light of the world. What Jesus proclaimed as truth enraged James to the point of rejecting his brother. After he recognized that his brother was the living Lord, he wrote; “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 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. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed like the wind.” (Jam 1:2-6)
James tells us that the fruit of our faith is evidenced by our perseverance. “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.” (Jam 1:12)
He continues to warn us NOT to be deceived. “Every good and perfect gift is from above”. James was emphatic with what he learned. “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” He continues in the first chapter to encourage us to look intently into the perfect law. The Word of God is what gives us freedom. We are not to forget what we hear the Spirit saying, but we are to do all that He says and we will then be blessed in our doing. “What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds?”
We are to put our faith in action, and be sure of what we hope for. We are to be certain of what we do not see, that God is watching, and God is pleased by our good deeds. “Well done my good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:21)
A theme throughout the book of James is “trust and obey”. In chapter two he warns us not to show favoritism. He compares a well dressed guest with a poor guest in shabby clothes. James exhorts us to treat each equally. “Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith” (James 2:5) Every teacher tends to teach by what they have learned, or they are compelled to teach what God wants them to learn.
Chapter three is about taming the tongue. Without diligent discipline, no man can tame the will of the tongue. With our words we either condemn or we bless. We praise God with the same tongue that curses people who do not behave in a way we would like them to. As people of faith, this should not happen. We must confess our bitter envy, our selfish ambitions, and our insatiable motive to look good in the eyes of others. Our Father knows the motives of our hearts. A time for repentance question is: do we desire to please Him above all else?
“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.” By being quick to listen and slow to speak, we have the best chance of using our tongues to ignite the fire of revival right where we live!
Wisdom came down from heaven and walked the earth as Jesus. With a purely holy heart, Jesus is considerate and full of mercy towards us. He understands our stubborn ways. He is impartial and ever sincere. Therefore we are wise to submit our secret desires, and all things that we covet to our Father. We must resist the devil and purify our hearts through repentance. “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” James 4:16
Copyright © 2019 by Barbara Alley Hoyle.
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