Counsel From James
Counsel From James
There are some very significant statements and instructions from the Lord for
2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
When we are in a trial or any kind of trouble we must approach it with a positive expectation that God will help. Faith is the confidence that God will certainly give help, because of his character and his promises. Anything less than faith arises from either a false view of who God is, or unbelief, which is simply believing a lie about God and your situation.
Are you tossed by the waves, one minute believing, the next in doubt? Choose to hold on to God’s character and promises, for nothing is too hard for him.
Note also the promise that God will give wisdom freely. This is the divine insight into how to practically act in your situation.
12 Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.
16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. 18 Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.
There is much said in the New Testament about patience and endurance. God deliberately lets us linger in our trouble because he knows that the process of dealing with it will strengthen faith and build character. Thus we become Christ-like.
Never accuse God of treating you unfairly, or blaming him for the situation. He only gives good gifts, so although he can use the situation for good, he is not the reason for it.
Did your trouble arise because you were tempted into foolish, sinful actions by your own selfish desires? Admit it and ask for help.
19 So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; 20 for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
This is crucial when our trouble seems to come from another person. Be swift to listen to God; don’t pester him with complaints and accusations about the other person.
Be swift to listen to the other person and slow to accuse. Bitterness, anger, unforgiveness and blame simply shift the focus away from the Lord being able to pinpoint our own problems. As long as we focus on the fault of the other person, we cannot find freedom and well-being.
21 Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.
When we have begun to listen, then we must also act. Obey the Lord in whatever he shows you. Hold on to it and do not allow your ingrained habits of thought to divert you back into accusation, unbelief and all those things. Battle to keep focused on what God says. He will give revelation, conviction, instructions on what to do, and promises to build faith.
8 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well; 9 but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. 11 For He who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty. 13 For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
Love is choosing to do what is best for another person. Although James speaks in the context of the sin of favouritism, the principle is wider. Have you transgressed just a little, (and the other person a lot)? Your responsibility is to deal with your own sin. Judge yourself under God; do not judge the other person.
What a beautiful thought that mercy triumphs over judgment. Choose mercy and grace; it works miracles that judgment and accusation never can.
14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
Again, for emphasis, James says that faith must express itself in action. There is a radical challenge here; in a conflict situation am I giving what my enemy needs or am I focused on my own need. Do I look beyond my brother’s fault to see his need?
2 For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body. 3 Indeed, we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. 4 Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. 5 Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things.
See how great a forest a little fire kindles! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. 7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. 8 But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. 10 Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? 12 Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh.
13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. 16 For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. 17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. 18 Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
“The meekness of wisdom” means the meekness that flows from wisdom. Meekness in not weakness. It is zealous for the honour of God and his desires, it is zealous for the rights and needs of others, but it does not assert itself, demanding its own rights and desires.
Meditate on the thought that “the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace”. What is the fruit of righteousness in your situation?
4 Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? 2 You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. 4 Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5 Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously”?
6 But He gives more grace. Therefore He says:
“God resists the proud,
But gives grace to the humble.”
Now James focuses in with forceful clarity on the real root cause of so much pain and trouble. He pulls no punches as he speaks with utter truthfulness. Conflict always has its roots in pride, self-orientation and our unfulfilled desires. Is the wife discontented because her husband is not the man her idealism seeks or because he does not meet her needs? Does a man feel frustrated because his wife is less than he wants? It all comes back to our desire for things we don’t have and our inability to be grateful for the measure of blessing God has given. May the Lord deliver us from our crippling idealism and desire.
Humble yourself by accepting with gratitude what comes from the Father’s hand.
7 Therefore submit 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. 9 Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.
Repent and accept the will of God for your life.
11 Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. 12 There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?
James has already pointed to the tongue as the promoter of strife. Stop the pointing of the finger, the placing of blame and accusations that condemn!
7 Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. 8 You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.
9 Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door! 10 My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience. 11 Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.
Now we return to James’ exhortation to be patient. Allow the Divine Farmer to mature his work. If we do so, there is a strong and certain promise here that we will reach the goal and receive the blessing of the Lord.
15 And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.
Let’s extend this to other kinds of sickness, not merely the physical. The person who has received God’s word through James must now be in a state of truthfulness about his own sin, broken and humble before the Lord, he needs the miracle that heals him. God will do it!
19 Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, 20 let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.
Here is a final comment that encourages us to encourage one another in these things. If we listen to this word and encourage one another in it, we will all escape death – the death that we experience in our daily lives when sin is unresolved, as well as the ultimate death upon the unrighteous.