We started our time by together singing hymn #7, "Sing Praise to the Lord"
Then we reviewed James 3:11-16, spending 3 minutes to review/memorize vv11-13, then another 3 minutes to review/memorize vv14-16.
Memory Passage Discussion
The theme of interaction with others continues from the previous section.
James challenges us in verses 11 and 12 - if you speak ill of other people, what's in your heart? If you are a true worshipper of God, you should speak edifying words, not cut others down. Recalling from vv9 (from last time), cursing is a total inconsistency of how we use our tongues - we started our time together today praising God! Fig trees don't produce olives - if you're cursing other men the worship of God is not in your heart.
The focus changes in vv13 to wisdom, specifically, wisdom related to how you interact with those around you (applicational wisdom), not just philosophical wisdom. True wisdom will produce right behavior; similarly the opposite (jealousy, selfish ambition) shows itself as well (vv16)
In vv14 we see a prohibition - "do not be arrogant…" In our sinfulness we try to justify our jealousy and ambition, saying things like, "why does so-and-so get this blessing, that I don't get?" While you may feel justified, you are dealing with something that is not from God, but is earthly, natural, demonic. The use of the words natural and demonic (vv15) point to the nature of this sin-cursed earth, and remind us that sin is not just earthly and natural, but is what evil demons do.
Have you had times when you've experienced jealousy and selfish ambition in your own heart?
- Material things
- Using the example of a nice house, if someone has blessed someone with a great house, to praise God along with them, we should rejoice with those who rejoice!
- Reflect on what we truly deserve, and to praise God for what we have
- Be confident in God's care for you
- God has blessed each person in a different way
- Self-worth, or Respect
- For example, when someone you see as a peer is treated better than you, or maybe a peer was promoted over you, you can be jealous of their treatment or status.
- In these cases, confess your own sin
- Congratulate the other person, but only after having dealt with your own heart first - there's no use in congratulating the other person if you still have bitterness and jealousy in your heart.
- God's ways are higher than our ways - In His sovereignty, God could be holding you back from pride, or from getting over your head and ruining yourself.
- How others Wives treat them
- As married men, there is no room for us to look at another person's wife and ask why can't our wife be like that?
- Praise God for that other person's wife!
- When you see how another wife treats their husband, don't ever leave room for you to think anything else, as that can lead to all manner of sin
- When we see God's blessing on others, we can be so sinful - we need to simply praise God and be content in Him, who gives to us everything we need
Jealousy can drive you to say things, do things that are irrational (vv16). We also have to be careful that we don't fall into the trap of being driven to do good things, but ultimately not being God-oriented.
Desiring things aren't wrong, but we need to check whether our ambition is selfish vs. ambition for the glory of God. We should all be ambitious to bless other people.
The opposite would be laziness, or apathy; not working very hard, having a very laissez-faire attitude, coming to church when you want to come, if you come at all. Even with this attitude, at the end of the day, you're seeking something for yourself (comfort).
Memory Passage Intro
The memory passage for next week is James 3:17-18, 4:1-3
James 3:17-18 completes the prior section.
Note that "gentle" in vv17 is the same word that we find in Philippians, meaning sweet reasonableness. People who produce righteousness = people who are pursuing peace. It is only from heavenly wisdom that we can making peace with others, and know how to live in harmony with others. What a stark contrast from vv16!
Stating the opposite of vv18, if you keep sowing the wrong thing, it will lead to chaos in your life and result in the ruin of your soul. We have to recognize it, call it out for what it is, and yank the jealousy and ambition so that you can then fill your heart with the right things.