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 dive into part two 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 next two themes of James's writings: temptation and what it means to be a Godly "doer".
James 3:13-16: If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.
Here, James wants us to understand that God can see and understand our motivations for doing things (probably better than we can at times!). So, don’t do things for the sake of selfishness of jealousy and be sure to watch your heart in all that you do, do.
James 3:17-18: But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.
This is really something to remember when we are tempted to do, say, or think things that are not from a pure heart. God’s wisdom is pure and will bring fruitful results. He will ALWAYS give you godly wisdom. If it does not bear fruit or does not come in line with what the Bible say, do not let it tempt you!
James 1:12-16: God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else. Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death. So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters.
If we get through a trial and don’t give into temptation, God has promised that we will receive a reward for our troubles. God does NOT tempt us, THE DEVIL DOES! The Holy Spirit may allow you to be in a place of temptation; however, He will NEVER tempt you either. Temptation in itself is NOT a sin, but acting on it is. When Job was tempted to give up, he never did. Neither did Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. Sweating blood and under immense stress, He prayed “Father take this cup” and God sent angels to minister to Him. Temptation is deceitful but cannot deliver what it has promised. It is formed from our own fears and desires. You alone are responsible for your own sin, since we (under our free will) have to agree to it in order for it to be so. Sin brings a separation from God; which is also referred to as “death”.
Being a Godly "Doer"
When James uses the word “religious” in his writings (and he often does), he is talking about a follower of Christ who tries to follow Him with their whole heart. This is perhaps different from your idea of "religious"; but, what James is really talking about is a Godly "doer".
James 1:19-27: Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires. So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls. But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it. If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless. Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.
James wants us to understand that these qualities are the key elements to a Godly character, lived out in the world. Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Quick to listen means as soon as there is a sound, pick it up and pay attention. It also means to understand what is being said to you, especially the TRUE meaning behind the words. Being slow to speak means to not say the first thing that comes to your mind, but to think of the meaning of your words and whether or not they are appropriate at such a time. Don’t be quick to anger. Anger toward someone or within someone will not bare righteous fruit for God. Listen to the word of God implanted in your soul and you will change. If you come to the Word of God and read it but don’t apply it to your life, you will never improve. God’s word should make you WANT to improve. God’s word to a receptive heart will accomplish God’s purpose.
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!