James Chapter 3:
“4 Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. 5 So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.”
This verse creates a big impact with a simple idea: the little things in life usually can create big outcomes. Throughout the beginning of chapter 3 and on through verse 12 it is reiterated that we, as Christians, need to watch the way that we talk and interact with each other as well as others because those actions tend to create the biggest impact on our relationships.
This verse, and even this section, allows the reader to better understand the consequences and outcomes of what we say. It does this by simply comparing our tongues to various parts of something bigger. For example, our tongue is compared to the rudder on a ship, which is small yet it makes a large impact on the direction of the ship. The tongue is also compared to a small fire, which so often becomes a large blaze that sets destruction to an entire forest.
This example could also point to the fact that, like a small fire, our tongues could burn bridges of formers relationships, destroy current relations or help in the destruction of ourselves if we do not learn to control the way that the tongue is used. If a fire is misused, not used properly, or not properly extinguished than it could easily become a hassle to try to control, preventing these areas of destruction. In the same way, if we use our tongues to speak wickedly to people or about people than we are going to destroy a once meaningful relationship. At the same time, when we get into the habit of speaking wickedly and we never learn to control it than we tend to lose focus on the times that we may have crossed the line, therefore we destroy even more relationships.
I believe this topic is a topic that often comes up in church, yet it seems that it is usually concluded with a list of don’ts that are attached. It seems that we rarely take the time to discuss what we should say or how we should deal with conflicts and constructive criticism.
“4 What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? 2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. 4 You adulterous people!”
This verse gives us a great insight on the battles that happen within our own personal lives. Often believers find themselves battling their desires and the holiness of God. Too often our desires do not initially line up with God’s desire for our lives. Therefore we are in a battle to fight off our unworthy desires to follow a perfect and Holy God.
As you can see in this passage we often covet something in our live that we do not obtain and because we are fighting to obtain what we covet, we end up creating more chaos within our own hearts and minds.
As we grow as Christians and as people, we begin to develop an idea of what we want and what we expect in our lives as we get older. Throughout this journey, we need to learn that our desires are wicked and we usually misuse our blessings that God has given us.
During our time in prayer we tend to ask God for developments in life and blessings, but too often our hearts are misdirected by our desires. We have yet to align our hearts and our desires to God’s word and will. When we ask God for these blessings, God is able to look into our hearts and determine the motivation of our hearts. Due to the fact that our hearts are misdirected, God chooses not to answer every prayer with the answer that we expect.
“7 submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”
Due to the fact that we are not aligned with the word of God, there are many things that we should do in order heal ourselves from our wicked desires. In order to become aligned with God’s will for our lives, we need to develop a relationship with God. The closer we grow with God, the further we will be from the Devil and the influence that he has on our thoughts and actions.
In order to truthfully further this relationship with God, we must submit ourselves to the word of God. This shows that only God can bring us closer. We can be healed and made new, but we need to surrender to God’s will for our lives, it is then that we will finally be made new.
Another part of submitting to God, we will be asked to leave our past behind. We cannot create a new life following God, without first letting go of the past that had already happened. Regardless of what we have done, or what has happened to us, we cannot move forward without letting go of the past.
“7 Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. 8 You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.”
There are so many things in this life that confines us and restricts us; sometimes it is difficult for us to learn to be patient when life gets stressful. Due to our culture of the ticking clock, we often find ourselves stressing about many aspects of our lives.
We need to learn to be patient in our times of confusion or miscommunication. In these times we need to be reminded that God is working in our lives and we need to remain patient until the moment that the plan is revealed to us.
We are asked to remain patient and trust God during these times that may be difficult. When God puts us through difficult times, those moments are put into our lives in order to develop us as believers. The truth is, everybody goes through hard times and we can trust God to get us through those hard times, but we should not forget to learn more about whom we are and who God is developing us to be.
“13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up.”
Prayer is a powerful tool when it comes to our spiritual lives. When you are facing difficult times and you are having difficulty the most important thing that we can do is pray over the situation, asking God to guide us and heal us.
Prayer can be used to lift up our own difficulties to God, or it could be used to lift up the needs of a family member or friend that is in need. Prayer is often used to focus our hearts, minds and our spirits to God’s hearts.
This spiritual tool is strong and should be used in every instance of life. Whether you are struggling with something large, or you are in a good place in your life, we should always be in prayer. We should be thanking God for the blessings that he has given us as well as we should pray when we are in difficult times.
James Chapter 1
“16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. 18 Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures.”
When I first read these words it seems simple enough and very straight forward. The basic idea that every aspect of Earth and our galaxy as well as our daily blessings are all given to us by our Father in Heaven is a pretty simple idea to understand, yet there is more to this story. Everything that we receive that is good is given to us by God. That is a straight forward idea, but look at verse 18:
“Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures.”
God has handpicked his people so that they can be the first fruits of his creatures. In order to better understand this, we need to understand what the first fruits are. This idea comes from the Old Testament, where the family income would be divided. God commanded his people to give 10% of the income, or stock, back to God through the church as a way of showing faithfulness. Those who give the 10% to the church would be blessed by God, which could be argued that those are the “good gifts” that are mentioned in verse 16.
Going back to verse 18, since God sets his people apart from all of his other creatures, we are being devoted to God as the “10%”, which is meant to be an example of God’s graciousness and glory to the rest of the world.
James chapter 1:26
“26 If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless.”
Along with the verse 18, I also looked deeper into verse 26. I thought intentionally about the idea of bridling your own tongue. Now, to most who read this verse may believe that this verse refers to foul language and rude humor and I do believe this to be true, yet I also believe that there could be more to the verse. At the end of the verse it says that we should bridle our tongue so that we don’t deceive our own hearts.
As I thought about that, I began to realize that before you bridle your tongue to keep from offending those around you, you have to think about how you are talking to yourself throughout the day and how that internal conversation could actually deceive our hearts.
This means that we need to stop filling our own hearts and minds with lies from the enemy and begin filling our hearts and minds with truths from God’s word. By doing this, we will be able to build ourselves up with truth instead of tearing ourselves down with lies.
When we can finally control our tongues with the way we speak to ourselves, then we can dedicate more time to building up our friends and family in truth. As we move from speaking God’s truth to ourselves to demonstrating it and speaking it to others; that is when we begin to discover the “good gifts” that is spoken about in verses 16-18. It is then that world will be able to see our first fruits and that we can truly point them to the Glory of God!
James chapter 2:
“10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it. 11 For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law.”
At first reading this chapter 2 section of verses 8-13 is very basic and unassuming. Yet, there is still a deeper look that we can take to these verses. The verses 10 and 11 are a part of a section that demonstrates the need to fulfill the entire law of God.
While in our personal lives we easily find loopholes for every section, the Word of God tends to discourage partiality, especially when it comes to the holiness of God’s word. At the surface of these two verses James shares the importance of not only knowing the entirety of God’s word, but applying the entire Bible to our lives. Due to the fact that God is the same “Yesterday, today and forever” that means that God’s intentions for His people remain intact regardless of our preference.
What does this mean for God’s people today? Well, it begins with the understanding that the entire Bible is God breathed (2 Timothy 3:16) and that means that all of the scriptures within the Bible are on the same playing field of importance. In other words, in the eyes of God all of the promises, commands and parables within the texts are held to the same standard. This shows that God does not have a hierarchy of which commandments or the most important for us to obey. We need to realize that they are all equal; therefore they should all be obeyed with the same intention on our parts.
We cannot pick and choose which commands that we will fully follow and still be considered believers and followers in Jesus Christ. For those of us who play favorites with God’s word, the outcome is still the same as a sinner who breaks all of God’s commandments.
James Chapter 2:21-22
“21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works;”
“You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.” Verse 24
When you think of faith, I would imagine that most people think of just a belief system that assures them that everything is going to work out fine. Most people probably prefer to leave the idea of faith as just a warm fuzzy feeling of accepting a situation. Most don’t want to imagine faith as a thing that requires them to take action on their faith.
In God’s eyes this is not the case. It seems that God requires us to move past the idea of merely believing in something and actually move into us put our faith into actions. This is especially true when it comes to God’s word and fulfilling God’s will.
The truth is, it is easy to believe in God or to believe in a specific mission, but it is an entirely different thing when you believe in God enough to put real-life action to your faith. We as believers are called to be doers of the Word of God, which is actually a reiteration of verses 22-25 of James chapter 1.
The belief of faith and the doing of action are married in the eyes of God and it is a marriage that we cannot separate or divorce due to the fact that faith without works is dead and works without faith is also dead. Therefore if we try to live our lives with the fullness of one and not the fullness of the other, we are not living to our pure potential. It is through the perfect marriage of faith and works that the world will see the ultimate display of the glory of God and the world will change for the better through the actions of Jesus!
When Jesus came to the earth, he declared that he came fulfill the law. Therefore we, who actually cannot fulfill the law in its entirety, don’t have to. Jesus lived the perfect life that we couldn’t so that his holiness, or perfection, can be accredited to us when we put our truth, or faith, in Him. Jesus willing died a death that he did not deserve as a way of suffering himself to his Heavenly Father for our sins, or our disobedience to God’s laws. It is through Jesus that we are able to fulfill the entire law of God. It is because of Jesus that we are able to display our faith to the world through our actions. It is because of Jesus that we are adopted into this Holy people even though we do have sin that separates us from God and God’s holiness. Finally Jesus resurrected on his own authority, which offers a new life to all those that believe in him and walk out the faith that they believe in.
Anthony K. Giesick
Actions are taken everyday that help make this world better and I just want to share them with you.