Studying the books of the Bible is a crucial tenet of Christianity and the formation of a deep, lasting relationship with God. Some books can be easier, and more pleasant, to study than others. However, all are the inspired words of God, Himself and are all equally worthy of our time and meditation. Today, we conclude with part four of our four part series on the book of James in order to highlight and discuss the key themes of James's writings and what they can teach us about our faith. In this post we will be discussing the final two themes of James's writings: speech and humility, patience, and prayer.
James 3:2-12: Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way. We can make a large horse go wherever we want by means of a small bit in its mouth. And a small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go, even though the winds are strong. In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself. People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water? Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring.
I really love this point James is making here. If someone can control their tongue,they can control everything around them. When there is inconsistent speech, there is something wrong with integrity. Words have power, they can inspire and build up, but they can also tear down and harm. “Sticks and stones” is wrong, words DO hurt and their pain doesn’t go away too quickly. for this reason, we must choose words carefully. Most importantly, small words can influence big things; even cause enormous damage. This is why rumors and gossip are so dangerous. if unchecked, they can have the power to ruin someone’s life. It is crucial to speak to edify others and not to harm them. To do this, we need to check each word before we speak. Bad speech and harmful words can and WILL poison all that you are trying to accomplish.
Humility, Patience, and Prayer
Conflicts between groups start because everyone wants their way, to some extent. Selfish desires are the problem as they tend to come before we even think about praying and asking God to get us what we want. Even if you do ask, If your motives are wrong, you won’t get it because in God's wisdom, He will understand that the thing your are asking for is not coming from a pure desire. This is why coveting is so dangerous; it changes our motives to impure desires fueled by the fear of missing out. As humans we should pray FIRST for everything (large or small).
James 4:6-10: And he gives grace generously. As the Scriptures say, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.
Here, James says that God is drawn to those who admit their own selfish desires and lean into Him. The closer you get to God, the less you will feel you know and the more you will need Jesus Christ. Submit to Him! Resist evil! Now, purify your heart. Be humble!
James 5:7-11: Dear brothers and sisters, be patient as you wait for the Lord’s return. Consider the farmers who patiently wait for the rains in the fall and in the spring. They eagerly look for the valuable harvest to ripen.You, too, must be patient. Take courage, for the coming of the Lord is near. Don’t grumble about each other, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. For look—the Judge is standing at the door! For examples of patience in suffering, dear brothers and sisters, look at the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. We give great honor to those who endure under suffering. For instance, you know about Job, a man of great endurance. You can see how the Lord was kind to him at the end, for the Lord is full of tenderness and mercy.
Finally, James says those who endure testing will be given the crown of life. You might be punished here but in the Kingdom, you will prosper.
I sincerely hope you have found this four part series on the book of James to be informative and enjoyable. May God bless you in your studies as you seek to know Him!
Are you looking for a good reading plan and just don't know where to start? Join me in reading all about the Bible's teachings on Thanksgiving throughout the whole month of November! Check out our November reading plan below and don't forget to stop by our Instagram Live (@whitneygibbsministries) each evening to discuss the day's readings!