I had gotten to the last day in my James: Mercy Triumphs study several days ago, but I finally penned my last “answer” a few minutes ago. Sometimes we just have to the let waters settle before we can move on. We have to be able to get our bearings – to look around at where we were, know where we are at, and get a good handle or where we’re headed – before we dive into the next unknown. I would say we need to “feel settled” before moving on, but anyone who has read or studied James knows that’s just not going to happen. If James does anything, he leaves you unsettled – a perfect place to get you to do something!
Beth asked us to record what most “resonated” with us within each chapter. I need to type this, pen this, review this often so as not to just hear and forget. For my purpose, I will hold off on chapter 1 and skip right to chapter 2. :14, What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? I talk a lot about faith, it’s even one of my blog post “categories”, but I have not had an equal amount of walking – unselfishly – in faith. James 3:8-10 …but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Oh, this tongue! If out of it pours the thoughts of the heart, then I have been double-minded for far too long! :16-18, For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. I think these set of verses pulled me because they are everything I want to be! I just want to be like Jesus so very bad!
James 4:7, Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. The posture of submission is etched on my heart and mind. It will be my undoing, gloriously so! Oh, that I would be undone – broken, humbled – before He Who does all things well! James 5:7, Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. These “early and late rains” and the time in between will forever give me a hopeful perspective of my days and seasons. I just need to know the rain is coming – if only in a cloud the size of a mans’ hand. :11, Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful. I want to have the blessing of the steadfast!
Now, for that chapter 1. It really does all circle back here. :22-25 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. I talk a lot. I write a lot. But I don’t always do a lot. When standing side by side with someone, making my claims of belief in God, I don’t want it to be a demon! (2:19) This chapter really led me into answering the question of “what about James’ life impacted you most..?” This was the only question I had left, today, in order to close the book of Mercy Triumphs. I saved it, maybe because I knew it was saving me. Here is what I wrote: He (James) has the speaking and living the Truth in love thing down. He doesn’t mess around with the fires of hell – of sin; rather, he plants himself firmly in Christ and asks for His fire to consume him! No nonsense!
James was a no-nonsense kind of guy! His vision was narrowly focused on God, not turning to the right or to the left. He put sin in its rightful place – in the dust, under his feet, as he fled from it! He put faith to work. He looked into the perfect law and persevered. He looked at his neighbor and loved him over judging him. He observed the damage of the tongue and decided to tame the wildest of “beasts”! He chose humble wisdom over lofty knowledge. James takes off the mask of our friend – the world – and displays that murderer for who he is. He sought the the high place of humility – that place that is closest to our God. He put life into perspective – that of a mist. He put sin into perspective – that thing which we know isn’t right. Yes, we know! He sought the rich for the poor and the poor for the rich – we are brothers and sisters! James knew suffering. His advice? Stay the course! Don’t let one ounce of suffering go, for you may forfeit blessings by doing so! He knew the power of a true believer’s prayer – it would save! James heard and James did and his life has made the firmest person struggle and the unstable person strong. If you look closely, if you really listen to James, you will find yourself looking into the face of his Brother and listening to the voice of Love.
James grew up with the boy Jesus and worked side by side with the man Jesus. James then followed his Brother only to taunt and ridicule Him. James watched as Jesus fulfilled every prophecy that pertained to Messiah. Then, after seeing or knowing of the suffering his Brother went through, James’ life changed. All of a sudden, every movement and word of Jesus became James’ very life and word. If Jesus spoke it, James did too! If Jesus lived it, James did too! Jesus…James.
That could be me. Jesus…me.
I will close with Beth’s final question. “What do you want to do in light of what you’ve learned?”
Beth lists my very heart and mind when she lists what she “hopes” – they are mine as well! I won’t lists them all; you’ll have to get to the last lesson in James yourself! I will add the one “hope” I had on top of all she mentioned, though.
Absolutely everything (Beth) mentioned…I’d like to say “especially” to something, but I’d still have to list them all! AND, I want to know God’s Word more and more until my very life speaks it!
If I never speak another word of my own, if I never live another way besides His Way, it won’t be too soon! No more nonsense! Just Christ!