Experts tell us that people often hide what they are trying to say behind a wall of words. This is a kind of doubletalk in which their words do not coincide with their feelings. Gerald Nierenberg, a New York lawyer, wrote a book about this problem called Meta-Talk: Guide to Hidden Meanings in Conversation. In it he gives 350 examples of verbal distortion.
A communication consultant who holds workshops on this subject says many people fear that honesty in speech will cost them friend-ships, love, or respect. So they either keep their lips zipped or say something other than what they mean. Shyness, lack of self-worth, fear of displaying ignorance, fear of criticism, and fear of hurting someone's feelings also may impede honest communication.
Christians are not immune to this problem. Trying to be both loving and truthful can be extremely difficult. The Bible, however, provides a balanced and optimistic approach to this dilemma. Being honest with people may hurt, but if we speak kindly and with compassion we give them the support they need to face reality.
The third chapter of James indicates that divine wisdom can help us talk effectively, for it is "first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy" (v. 17). Believers who let these characteristics govern their speech will not have to hide behind a wall of words. —M R De Haan II (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)
Gentle words fall lightly, but they have great weight. .
James 2:23 [Abraham] was called the friend of God.
Our Unfailing Friend: As a young man, Joseph Scriven had been engaged to a woman he deeply love. But tragedy struck the night before their wedding when the boat she was in capsized and she drowned. In the hope of forgetting the shock, which he never did, Joseph left his home in Ireland and went to Canada.
There he taught school and served as a tutor. He chose to live very simply, spending his money and strength in generously providing for destitute people. At times he even gave away his own clothing. He was considered an eccentric by some, yet all he tried to do was obey God's Word as best he could understand it.
In his loneliness, Joseph Scriven needed a steadfast friend. Having found that friend in Jesus Christ, he wrote these simple words, which movingly express his experience:
What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
Even if we have been blessed with deeply enriching friendships, we all need Joseph Scriven's Friend. But before we can know Jesus as our Friend, we must know Him as our Savior. Then, through all of our changing circumstances, He will be the One we can depend on -- our unfailing Friend. -Vernon Grounds (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)
Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless?
In nature, lightning and thunder present a striking illustration of the relationship between faith and works. When lightning flashes across the sky, we know that the roar of thunder will follow. Without lightning, there would be no thunder, because the one is the cause of the other. Likewise, good works always accompany saving faith, because one causes the other.
We must keep before us the clear truth that we are saved by grace and grace alone. Ephesians 2:8-9 says,
"For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast."
But many believers who glibly quote this passage ignore the verse that follows: "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them" (v. 10).
In the same manner that thunder contributes nothing to lightning, good works add nothing to our salvation. Rather, they are the "sound" of faith and will follow every genuine conversion experience. The one without the other is not the real thing.
Genuine faith is always evident by what follows—a life of good works. —R W De Haan. (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)
Faith without works is presumptuous; faith with works is precious.
When we believe in Christ as Savior and Lord, we long to express our faith through some act of love. The apostle Paul spoke of “faith working through love” (Gal. 5:16). We demonstrate what we believe, not only by what we say but also by what we do. The genuineness of our faith, therefore, is proven by our works. An incident in the life of John Wesley illustrates this truth. An associate of Wesley, Samuel Bradburn, was highly respected by his friends and used by God as an effective preacher. On one occasion he was in rather desperate financial need. When Wesley learned of his circumstances, he sent him a five-pound note (then worth about $10) with the following letter:
“Dear Sammy: ‘Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.’ Yours affectionately, John Wesley.”
Bradburn’s reply was prompt.
“Rev. and Dear Sir: I have often been struck with the beauty of the passage of Scripture quoted in your letter, but I must confess that I never saw such a useful expository note on it before.”
Someone has said,
“Pious talk cannot take the place of downright helpfulness.”
This is especially true in the matter of both faith and love. To profess faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord and ignore the needs of fellow believers is incongruous, for “the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit” (Ro 5:5). Let’s learn from John Wesley and from James by giving a practical exposition of our faith every day. - Paul R VanGorder
There are two parts to the Gospel. The first part is believing it, and the second part is behaving it. The hearer only is the one who is satisfied with just believing without behaving.
Have you ever met a fair weather fan? You know the type. It’s the guy who talks a good game, but leaves early when the weather gets bad or the team isn’t playing their best.
You know a true, die-hard fan when you meet one. This is the person who tailgates no matter the weather, stays until the end to sing the alma mater, and would decorate the house in team colors if his spouse would let him.
You can tell how serious someone is about Jesus the same way you can tell how serious someone is about a sports team. In both cases, our actions speak louder than words. We can say we love Jesus, but if our love for Jesus doesn’t change how we live, how much do we really love Him?
James 2:14-26 challenges us to show our faith by what we do. Faith and works go hand in hand. Before we met Jesus, we were dead. When we asked Him to be lord of our lives, we came alive.
Salvation is a starting point, not a destination. Our faith grows as we read the Bible, pray, and continue coming to church. As Jesus works in us, He begins to work through us. We begin to think different things, and do different things. Jesus changes the way we look at other people, giving us a desire to serve others and tell people about Him.
Too many Christians go through life as fair weather fans. It feels like something is missing because it is. Only when we’re willing to put our faith into action will we experience the thrill of Jesus working through us.
The well-known apparent “conflict” between James and Paul focuses especially on this verse. The Apostle Paul says emphatically: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8, 9). Yet James, also an apostle, insists: “But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?” (James 2:20) There is no real conflict, of course. In our text verse, there is a definite article before the word “faith.” That is, James’ question is, literally, “Can that faith save him?” This is obviously intended as a rhetorical question, with a negative answer. In the context, James is saying that a “profession of faith” is not enough to produce salvation, if that faith “have not works.”Since that kind of faith does not save, then what kind of faith does save? The answer is given by Paul, in the very verses quoted above. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that—i.e., that faith (which is the inference in the original)—is not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.” In other words, true saving faith is not a man-generated faith of some kind; it is a supernatural gift of God!” And that faith does save, because it is part of the new nature implanted by the Holy Spirit when a new believer is born again. Furthermore, this faith does inevitably produce good works, for the verse following says that “we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). Faith must be faith in something, of course, and true saving faith must have its proper object. It must be centered in the saving gospel of Jesus Christ as revealed in His inerrant Word. Such faith will inevitably result in a changed life and good works, as well as a sound and growing confidence in the deity of Christ, His substitutionary death and bodily resurrection, the full authority of Scripture and the assurance of one’s personal salvation. That is the faith that saves. - HMM
James 2.12. So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty.
Again the purpose of James is practical, but the arresting word here is the description of the standard of speech and action as "a law of liberty." The phrase had already been used, as a definition of "the perfect law" (r. 25). Its repetition shows that it suggests an aspect of law which impressed the writer, and it is interesting to remember that the phrase is peculiar to James. He had referred a little before to the "royal law"—"Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself"—words taken from the law of Moses, and emphasized in the teaching of Jesus. Was it not the sum-total of the conception of life as implicated in that "royal law" that he described as a "law of liberty"? To keep that law is only possible when that which the Lord had connected with it is obeyed: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God." When that law is kept, the soul is set free from all the bondage which results from the breaking of any of the enactments of the moral law. The law of liberty is the law which defines our relationship to God and man as love-mastered. To speak and do under that impulse, is to be free indeed. If that law be disobeyed, if no mercy be shown, then judgment based upon that law will show no mercy. Love is the most vigilant and severe sentinel that watches words and works. If it be obeyed, then is life a life of liberty. If it be disobeyed, then are we in bondage every way. (Morgan, G. C. Life Applications from Every Chapter of the Bible).
James 2:10 "Whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty in all."
GOD'S MERCY SYSTEM - In the United States justice system, it's important that jurors have an open mind. They can't have their minds made up before they get into the courtroom. They must always remember that a person is considered
innocent until proven guilty.
Even for those who never expect to find themselves on the wrong side of the law, it's a comfort to know that guilt is not assumed, but has to be proven.
Yet, this system of justice is not like the one God has devised for mankind. We are declared guilty before we even enter His courtroom! And though that may not sound fair, it is. God's perfect holiness demands it.
In a courtroom, when a person is found guilty, he or she faces punishment. But the wonderful thing about God's courtroom is that when we admit our guilt, we are offered mercy! We are all guilty and face an eternal life-sentence of death. Yet the penalty for sin is meted out only to those who refuse to acknowledge their sin, and who reject God's forgiveness through Jesus Christ.
Guilty -- that's our status. But we can be granted forgiveness and be pardoned from our sin through the blood of Jesus Christ. That's God's mercy system! -- J D Branon (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)
God's pardon is so full and free,
For Jesus died on Calvary;
It's granted to each sinful soul
Who truly longs to be made whole. -- Dennis De Haan
God's justice condemns us -- but His mercy redeems us
James 2:9 If you show partiality, you commit sin.
A PREJUDICED USHER - In his autobiography, Mahatma Gandhi wrote that during his student days he read the Gospels seriously and considered converting to Christianity. He believed that in the teachings of Jesus he could find the solution to the caste system that was dividing the people of India.
So one Sunday he decided to attend services at a nearby church and talk to the minister about becoming a Christian. When he entered the sanctuary, however, the usher refused to give him a seat and suggested that he go worship with his own people. Gandhi left the church and never returned.
"If Christians have caste differences also," he said, "I might as well remain a Hindu."
That usher's prejudice not only betrayed Jesus but also turned a person away from trusting Him as Savior.
The "prejudiced usher" described in today's Bible passage welcomed a wealthy visitor but insulted a poor one. Perhaps he felt he was doing his job and only carrying out the wishes of the members in the church. But he displayed bad manners, and he was guilty of a sin as serious as murder and adultery (James 2:9-11).
When people visit your church, do you warmly welcome them regardless of their race of social status? -Haddon W Robinson (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)
God's love that drew salvation's plan
Embraces every class of man;
It breaks the toughest racial wall
Because it offers Christ to all.--Dennis De Haan
Prejudice distorts what it sees, deceives when it talks, and destroys when it acts.
Obeying the law is black and white. The rules are the rules, and we cannot choose which laws to obey and which to ignore. If you choose to obey the speed limit, but neglect to wear a seatbelt, you are still breaking the law. Similarly, we do not get the luxury of choosing to follow only the parts of the Bible we like.
The book of James is a letter from Jesus’ brother to the early church in Jerusalem about the hypocrisy happening among Christians. Like a lot of us today, the people of the early church struggled with committing every part of their lives to Jesus. They welcomed Jesus’ teaching on grace and salvation but seemed to be ignoring His instructions on how to treat others. Those who were wealthy and had titles were being given special treatment, while those who were poor were easily dismissed.
For these early Christians, loving your neighbor as yourself did not come naturally (James 2:8). And if we’re being honest, treating others equally does not come naturally to us either. Our natural inclination is selfishness. We impress those we want to be like while brushing off the needs in front of us as “not my problem.”
Treating our bosses as we would want to do be treated makes sense. But what about the guy on the corner asking for help? Or the family next door with the overgrown grass and unruly kids? What does loving those neighbors get us in return? A life that better represents Jesus.
Jesus doesn’t call us to follow the commands that are easy; He calls us to follow them all. Our spiritual lives progress most when we listen to God's Word and follow it wholeheartedly.
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