You want something... but don’t get it.

James starts chapter 4 with this question and answer,
“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from YOUR DESIRES that battle within you? You want something but you don’t get it…”

You want something… but you don’t get it….
This little phrase really slapped me in the face as I read ☺ and it is so true.
How do I act when I want something, and I don’t get it?

This passage makes more sense when we look at the end of chapter 3. James writes about two kinds of wisdom: heavenly and earthly. Both are identifiable by the fruit they produce. Wisdom from heaven is pure, peace loving, considerate, full of mercy. Earthly wisdom is full of disorder, selfish ambition, bitterness, and envy.

I don’t want to brag, but looking at that list I am full of “heavenly” wisdom…
At least, when it is easy to be.
Yet when I really, really want something, and then I do not get it... envy, bitterness, disorder, manipulation, quarrels etc.…

As we read James 3 and 4 we must ask ourselves these questions: How do I treat others when I do not get what I want? Do I connive, manipulate, or enforce my will?
Do I seek God’s will, and heavenly wisdom? Do I pray with the right motives? Do I remain humble and submit myself to God?
Because I am usually wise, until I want something and don’t get it.


the tongue.

Can you roll your tongue?

Can you control your tongue? James takes some time to talk about how important, but how difficult it is to control the tongue. You will definitely hear a sermon sometime in the next year on this subject. I've been wanting to do a series on this for the past year or two - but it just hasn't come together yet. At the end of his comments about the tongue, James makes a statement that is so very convicting to me: Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can't draw fresh water from a salty spring. What is he saying here? Is he saying that our heart, our motives can be made known by the words we choose to use? I think it was Scooby Doo who said "rhut rho." And I think Jesus said something to the effect of "Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks." How do you assimilate these verses? What do you take from these instructions from James? And is it ok to quote James, Jesus and Scooby Doo in the same blog entry?



This piece of James is just convicting. Seriously - James uses plain language to get a very important point across. If you claim to have faith, but don't have any outward evidence (and he's not talking about showing up at church), you're only fooling yourself. Here it is again...just in case you skimmed over it in your reading:
What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don't show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? 15 Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, 16 and you say, "Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well"—but then you don't give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?
17 So you see, faith by itself isn't enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.
18 Now someone may argue, "Some people have faith; others have good deeds." But I say, "How can you show me your faith if you don't have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds."
19 You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. 20 How foolish! Can't you see that faith without good deeds is useless?

There is much debate over this passage of scripture. You have some who say: if you really believe this, you believe in salvation by works (or that you are made right with God because you do the right things). You have some who say: you have to do the right thing to be right with God. And then, there are those with a more balanced perspective: you are made right with God through Christ alone (faith)...but that faith makes itself known in how you live. If you don't live it out, I'm not sure how real it is.

So what do you think? Was this convicting to you?


Just do it

James might just be my favorite book of the Bible. So, I am excited to delve into Chapter 1 with you.

First, I love that we are reminded to be joyful as we face and endure trials. While it is often difficult to assume this attitude during the trial, we all appreciate the maturity of faith and gift of grace as a result of the experience. Knowing that the endurance of a variety of trials will increase my spiritual stamina and develop my moral character has to change my attitude and approach to any challenges that might come my way. Let me share a thought from The Expositor's Bible Commentary on verse 12: "the word dokimos, which indicates that the man 'has stood the test', was used to describe the successful testing of precious metals and coins. It referred to the process of testing and also to the consequent approval of the tested object as genuine." I love that picture--that God would watch my process and deem me, my Walk and my Faith, as genuine. How I long to please the Lord in that way!

It is interesting to me that James points out in the next few verses that temptation does not come from God, nor does it come from outside sources. Rather it comes from “his own evil desire.” Of course Satan tempts us, but sometimes we spend more time placing blame then recognizing that which is within us and giving it up to God. I think this section can be summed up by a Casting Crown song entitled “Slow Fade”; I recommend searching it on itunes and giving it a listen—let me entice you with this one line “Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid…”

I think verses 19-27 could be summed up by quoting Nike…“just do it”. Several times in my life I have had the privilege of learning sign language. I love this language and seem to pick it up rather quickly. However, my “learning phase” has rarely been coupled with a “practical phase”; in other words, I am taught how to position my hands and fingers in certain ways to make specific words for communication, but I never have anyone to actually sign to. The result? After a few months, I’ve forgotten most of it again and am reduced to being able to tell you my name and to “stop” or “wait”—helpful with 2 year olds and that’s about it! The same goes for our studies of God’s Word. We must listen and read then obey, experience and DO.

Reflect on all we have read in the N.T. together this year. Are you putting it into practice? What have you changed in your life as a result? How has your Christ-like love manifested itself lately?