Summary: Will you be one remembered as a part time soldier...one who worked for the Lord only when it was convenient? Many take the summer off to serve their own desires and leave the work of the Lord to a remaining few. Is that how you will be remembered?
THE TWO WISDOMS (Memorial Day)
JAMES 3:13 4:10
Memorial Day is a day of remembrance...remembering those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. But for most, it's nothing more than the official start of the summer season, when the picnics and all the outdoor activities begin.
For others it has a deeper meaning, remembering someone close who lost their life because of their commitment to preserving the freedoms we so often take for granted. Those left behind carry a sense of loss and grief as well as pride in the courage and faithfulness their loved ones showed as they served our country.
But I'm of the opinion that those who have actually been there...those who have served in the armed forces...those who put themselves in harm's way, have a deeper sense of appreciation and a greater understanding of what this day really means.
For example, Nancy is quite obviously pregnant. And she's at the point now where misery is a way of life. Back pain, foot pain, walking up the steps wears her out. She can't sleep well. And I've been doing as much as I can to help her. I know it's difficult for her...and it's not been a picnic for me...but I certainly don't have as great an appreciation for childbirth as she does.
That's kind of the way it is with war. Most of our nation stood behind our men and women in the Gulf War...the sense of patriotism and support and pride was tremendous. Thanks to CNN and other networks, most Americans had a better view of the war than those actually involved.
But they weren't able to feel the tension when the sirens went off announcing another scud missile was approaching. They didn't know the fear of wondering if they were being gassed by chemicals or being poisoned by the smoke and fumes of the oil fires. They didn't feel the heat and the cold of the desert...or face the snakes, scorpions and sand fleas that tried to share their sleeping quarters.
They didn't have to unload the wounded...or see young men with missing limbs...or smell burned flesh...or carry the body bags to the refrigerated cars. Those are some of the memories I have of my tour in the Gulf..those are some of my thoughts on Memorial Day.
Actually my feelings are mixed. I'm proud to be an American...I'm proud to have served my country during two wars. But I also learned to hate during the Gulf War. In just a few short months I saw enough misery and death and destruction to set inside me a fire that burns and likely never will go out...in fact I hope it never goes out.
But it's not directed at Saddam or the Iraqi's or anyone else like that. They were just pawns in a game...Satan's game. And that's where my hatred lies. Satan is the one who caused all the horror and heartache. And I hated him so much while I was in the desert that I dedicated my life to fighting him in whatever way I could. That's why I'm here today.
But the Gulf War is long over and nobody wants to hear my war stories. I've learned that the only people who like war stories in the first place are those who have their own war stories to share...or those who have been touched very deeply by war. And that's why my job as a preacher of the gospel is so difficult.
As Christians we're called into a spiritual war from the moment we accept Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. But most today who claim to be saved have neither the heart nor the stomach for battle. They're quick to send others off to fight but want nothing to do with that kind of sacrifice themselves.
And when we talk of fighting great spiritual battles...and tell war stories of how God brought us through difficult times when it seemed the enemy was about to finish us off...most couldn't care less because they can't relate. They've never joined the real battle for the life and soul of an individual. They want the benefits without the conflicts.
Today we're going to look again to the book of James and examine this whole idea of fighting the most important battle of the ages. But we first need to determine whose side we're fighting for...we need to draw some clear battle lines.
In chapter 1, when James laid out his 3 main topics, the third was to keep oneself from being stained by the world. With all his usual bluntness, James assures us that we have launched into the third main topic...being a friend of the world is an enemy of God.
This new subject grows so naturally our of his teaching on the place and power of the tongue. Last week we saw that if the source is pure then what flows out will be pure. But how do we get a heart that is pure? In the last section of chapter 3, James answers that by showing that there are 2 wisdoms...one produces division and sin, and the other brings in a harvest of righteousness.