Summary: The fourth in a series through the book of James
Sundays walking through the book of James. The first Sunday we focused on James 2:14, (Overhead 1)
‘Dear brothers and sisters, what’s the use of saying you have faith if you don’t prove it by your actions? That kind of faith can’t save anyone.’ We were given a snapshot from a nameless preacher that ‘the Epistle of James is a collection of sermon notes.’ And so I challenged us to look at the book from the eyes of a pastor, the half-brother of Jesus, who is considered to be the first pastor of the Jerusalem church. We were challenged to ‘show me your faith.’
The next sermon (Overhead 2) challenged us to ‘show me your commitment through how you respond to trials and temptation,’ as we looked at verses such as James 1:13 and 14. ‘And remember, no one who wants to do wrong should ever say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else either. Temptation comes from the lure of our own evil desires.’
We were given a picture of a curve ball and the challenges that hitters face from a curveball and that we are thrown curveballs throughout life from both external factors or life situations that we can honestly call trials (as well as temptations) as well as the inner curve balls that come from our warped desires.
In the third sermon (Overhead 3) we were challenged to ‘show me your character…through everyday living’ as we examined verses such as James 1:19–21, ‘Dear brothers and sisters, be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Your anger can never make things right in God’s sight. So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the message God has planted in your hearts, for it is strong enough to save your souls.’ Five additional character issues were studied as well; cleaning up our inner self, letting your faith work, the use of your tongue, the treatment of others, and living like we believe.
This morning our walk takes us through the latter half of chapter 3, beginning with verse 13 through the end of chapter 4. It is a segment that, like other parts of the book, jumps around but there are two verses that act like bookends that give us perspective on what is said between them.
The first bookend is our main text this morning, James 3:13 ‘If you are wise and understand God’s ways, live a life of steady goodness so that only good deeds will pour forth. And if you don’t brag about the good you do, then you will be truly wise!’ The other bookend is James 4:14 ‘For your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone.’
The phrase ‘live a life of steady goodness’ is a phrase that I want each of us to really think about this morning and keep in mind as we examine the passages in between these two verses. It is a good description of ‘showing what we got by how we relate to others.’
As followers of Jesus Christ, we demonstrate our faith in how we relate to others, as we, in the words of Pastor Travis Moore, exhibit godly wisdom, submit to (or obey) God, and live one day at a time.
What does Godly wisdom look like? Let’s look at James 3:17 and notice the following phrases:
… the wisdom that comes from heaven is: pure
gentle at all times
willing to yield to others
full of mercy and good deeds
shows no partiality and is always sincere.
Wise people are sought out because they are wise and because they illustrate the best in our passage. Now they are not pushovers, they don’t always say, “Well, live and let live.”
Wise people have an internal strength and resolve that sometimes makes us sit up and take notice. Wise people challenge us to move to a higher level of life.
Now this internal strength comes in two ways. First, it comes in the choice to live a life of steady goodness as we allow the Holy Spirit to change us day-by-day. Second, it comes in the letting go of those things that are described in verses 14 through 16: the jealousy and envy.
Wise people also know how to deal with jealousy and envy. They see the warning signs, and learn how to deal with them before they grab hold of their heart. And as we move on to the next segment of the chapter we have a very clear statement on how to deal with the jealousy, envy, and the other things that poison our souls and relationships.
Let’s first stop at verse 7. ‘So humble yourselves before God. Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you.’