Saturday, June 30, 2007

Lessons from James--Week 3, Chapter 3

Lessons from James--Week 2, Chapter 2
Lessons from James--Week 1, Chapter 1

Well guys, at this point, it's the end of week 3, only 2 more weeks till camp! I'm so excited!!! After this week, I'm exhausted and need a vacation. Not sure how restful a sleepless week of camp with 100 junior high aged kids will be. But I know it will be spiritually uplifting and I'm just counting on Him to give me His rest and peace that I need. Without further adieu, let's delve into chapter three of James...

"Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check. When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. 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. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water."--James 3:1-12
-----Wow. James elaborates some more on what it means to DO God's will, in a way that is tangibly evident in our lives, and he has alot to say here about a seemingly small thing. He's talking about our tongue...and he uses several metaphors to describe to us the vast importance of learning to control it. First he uses metaphors to describe to us its power and importance in our lives--a bit in a horse's mouth, or a rudder on a ship. Seemingly small parts that can have a big impact. As the old saying goes, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me." Well, that saying is a lie. Words are powerful enough to hurt others, not to mention ourselves. He says it has the ability to set the whole course of a our lives on fire--I dunno about you, but that's a scary thought for me. James says it's easier to tame animals, who by nature may be aggressive, than it is to tame the tongue. Think about that for a minute? Imagine how much effort and training someone has to put into a job like that. Not that I would know, I'm not an animal trainer, and I don't play one on TV. But I can imagine that it wouldn't be easy--yet it can be done. Taming the tongue, however? James says no man can do this. He says the man who can accomplish this is perfect. Perfect? Just by being able to control what you say? That's how much self-control James says this takes. And then he ends with the thought that one cannot both praise God and curse his brother. If there is salt water flowing from your spring, there cannot be pure fresh water coming from it as well. The verse that keeps coming to mind is the words of Jesus in Matt 12:34, "Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks."

"Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such 'wisdom' does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness."--James 3:13-18
-----If I had to pick a theme of the book of James (or at least of the part that I've read and analyzed up to this point) I believe I would pick this passage of scripture. Would you agree? The reason I say this is because two main things continue to jump out at me as I read through. I keep seeing the theme of "Godly/Spiritual/Eternal vs. Worldly/Physical/Temporary" and I keep seeing the theme of "Being a doer"--that is, we need to be focused on the eternal things, rather than things of this world, and this should be evident in the way we live our lives and the things we do. This passage says all of that perfectly. There is a spiritual, Godly wisdom that is better than the wisdom of this world; and when we learn to live out our lives by it, we will be blessed with God's peace and righteousness.

Just a few more of my thoughts as I read afresh through James; just a girl tryin to pick up some new insight. If you've got any insight to offer, I'd greatly appreciate it! Much love!

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