James gives us a mark of a true believer in this passage. If a person loves God, he will love His word…the true believer will not just hear the word of God, he will obey it. Obedience is a characteristic that the believer is glad to demonstrate. John 14:23-24 says, “Jesus answered and said to him, ‘If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our abode with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words, and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me.’”
Do you love the word of God? Do you obey the word of God? James says you cannot just say you love the word, your obedience will prove it! Your work will not lead you to a relationship with God, your work or obedience is the result of your relationship with God.
“…he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror.”
Peering into a mirror will motivate one to straighten a collar or address a grooming concern. It will perhaps prompt feelings of worry over one’s physical characteristics. But a mirror will only reflect the ways of thinking already present in your own head. You will regard the image you see in a mirror according to the way you’ve been taught you should appear. Peering into the scriptures, on the other hand, will place you in an encounter with God rather than with your own notions of the world. The mirror’s image is a feedback loop that reinforces what you believe. James says the word of God will reveal new things that will lead you to a new kind of living – the kind of living that Jesus said is eternal.
Re:Verse passage – James 1:19-27 (day two) This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger;20 for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. vs. 19-20
Perhaps you’re like me: Have you ever prayed for patience, or that the Lord would help to control your anger…only to have the Lord give you an opportunity to practice patience or a tempered spirit? And if you’re like me…you blew it. I always feel so defeated when this happens, but I rarely go far enough to find out the root of my disappointment. James reminds us to put aside those things which are the root cause of our anger. We are to root out wickedness. Oftentimes I find that when I am quickly impatient even after prayer it is because in my heart I really didn’t want it in the first place. Our prayers must be honest. God’s not fooled by a cursory homage to repentance or petition. Dealing with the root of the problem is the only hope for true peace.
Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. vs 15 (ESV)
Desire is a snowflake. Seemingly innocent and charming, dancing in the wind as it makes its decent from the clouds. It lands harmlessly on top of a mountain, finding a home amongst other snowflakes of desire. As these snowflakes pile up, it is evident that the mountain can no longer contain the energy of this mass. It begins to roll slowly down the mountain. As it rolls down the mountain, it picks up more snowflakes and in turn gains steam. Faster, faster the mass is growing. It is now out of control barreling its way down the mountain leaving a trail of destruction in its wake…
Desire and sin left unchecked in our hearts can lead to this type of disaster. When we let it pile up, we risk it leaving a trail of destruction not only in our own lives, but in the lives of those around us.
14 Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away.15 These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death. 16 So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters.17 Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father… James 1:14-17 (NLT)
While we may be our own worst enemies, God is most certainly not; he is for us not against us. That’s the message James desires his readers to know. In this new life of faith in Jesus, we will face plenty of challenges, including our own sinful desires, but God in no way aims to throw us curveballs, or trip us up.
In fact, he desires to give us good gifts; to be our wisdom and refuge in time of need, after which, we will be strong and radiant and immovable. That’s why James encourages us not to shy away from trouble, but to face it head on knowing God will not leave us or forsake us, but help us become who he always intended us to be.
“But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust.”
My relationship with God through Jesus Christ is both corporate (I belong to a community of believers- body- family) and personal (God called and saved me). I had a youth worker in Dallas who wanted to illustrate this point. He handed out $5 dollar bills to every teenager who came to our Wednesday night gathering. Students were thrilled and overwhelmed (it was 30 years ago- $5 went a long ways). He began teaching about how God loves and deals with His children. He said, “In a way, I gave all of you $5. But in a more personal and intentional way, I gave each of you $5”.
pThere is certainly community and fellowship with other believers. Accountability. Encouragement. Ministry together. But there are deeply personal and individual facets of our faith as well. My salvation. My sin. My growth. My relationship with Christ.
God holds nations and churches accountable. But He also holds EACH person accountable. Judgement is a deeply personal and individual experience. Only I will be asked to give an account for my life. Only I must answer to the Holy and Sovereign Lord for my actions and attitudes. Only I must repent and seek forgiveness for my sins. Only I can call on the Lord for my salvation.
God, give grace to each of us to consider our own sin, salvation, and sanctification.
I often remind people that every good thing comes from the Lord. “Every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father of Lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” This is a comfort to us who have evil desires coming from within our own deceitful hearts. The world says people are good at heart, but they are wrong. The only good in this world is a gift from God. If anything good happens it’s only because God willed it into existence. Not because someone human made it happen. The very moment we go and do something good and get glory and praise because of it, that action becomes impure and sinful. God must receive all the credit for the good things we do. But don’t worry he gives you permission to take credit for the bad things. Just like the passage before said to ask for wisdom, why don’t you ask God to help you do something good for His glory today?
“…we would be a kind of first fruits among his creatures.”
There is a world coming, and in that world, people will work for each other’s good, they will bear with one another, they will listen to one another, they will in humility regard others as better than themselves, they will tell the truth to one another, they will let no debt remain outstanding except the continuing debt to love one another. And the only way that world comes is by beginning right now and growing until the appearance of Jesus Christ. That’s what the “first fruits” language is all about. James declares that when you live the way of life he preaches, that way of life will give lost people a window into a world they’d want to live in. You are the preview, and they’ll want to join you.
Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. vs. 15
Make no mistake, sin doesn’t just happen. There are so many times when we put ourselves in positions to allow the un-natural progression of sin to take over. It is likely that you know yourself well enough to recognize a pattern. Whether it is a relationship that is unhealthy, a choice that has historically led to pitfalls, or whatever steps that you have watched yourself take in the past…this ends in only one thing…sin. In order to stop this insanity we must recognize our bent to sin, and cut off the choice before it is too late. If you are strong enough to stop the pattern, and you’re not, Jesus is. It’s time to get off the merry-go-round of sin and death, and set your path where only Jesus can lead.