To say that James has a way of making a point is to be guilty of serious understatement! It is difficult to misunderstand him because of his rich way with words and the vivid, yet practical, illustrations he uses. James’ intention is obvious – he wants to drive home the necessity of living out our faith in Christ. He further stresses how brethren must keep looking to God’s perfect law of liberty to have an enduring, working faith that truly honors our Lord (James 1:21-27).
James obviously cares deeply about the church – he knows the church to be purchased by the blood of Christ (Acts 20:28) and that it constitutes the body of Christ (Colossians 1:18, 24). He wants to see the church grow to even greater maturity and spiritual wholeness; he desires our fellowship with God and with one another as Christians to be all the Lord intends for it to be (see Philippians 1:5; 2:1-4; 3:10).
James repeatedly uses the expression “brethren” or “brothers” in the book. What would James say to the church of which you are a part? I suspect he would say pretty much the same thing as he did to his initial readers! As a follow-up to last week’s Mondays With Mike, let’s continue examining what James has to say about relating to God and to one another in this letter about the practicality of living out our faith in Jesus.
- Brethren – the church must be a people who ever exhibit working, vibrant faith (2:14-17). The church of God is no place for tired, lethargic (in)activity – God and the gospel are far too great for that!
- Brethren – the body of Christ must be a place where God’s word is approached humbly, skillfully and respectfully (See James 3:1). Teachers, in particular, must exhibit such an attitude so as to help others and to go to heaven ourselves.
- Brethren – the children of God must make sure their speech is properly guarded lest it thoughtlessly disrupts and destroys (James 3:9-12). Consistent God-honoring talk is greatly encouraged (James 5:12).
- Brethren – the church must be an environment where the destructive nature of devilish speech is shunned (James 4:11-12). “Speaking evil against one another” sounds far more like following after Satan than God.
- Brethren – fellowship with God and one another as Christians must involve godly patience both with people and with circumstances (James 5:7-8). Too often, short fuses cause Christians to fly into a rage!
- Brethren – the church must be a place where seldom is heard a cynical, discouraging word. There is a conspicuous lack of grumbling because Christians realize something about how blessed they are. The Lord is seen as compassionate and merciful (James 5:9-11). There is surely a place for godly rebuke, but grumbling and a harsh, vindictive spirit are far removed from the spirit of Christ.
- Brethren – God’s people must ever be vigilant concerning souls (see James 5:19-20). Those brethren who go astray are encouraged to come home, and those who are lost are given God’s glorious message of salvation and hope in Christ and are encouraged to obey.
If the world saw congregations work together through their difficulties and challenges as the people of God should, they then would see something resembling the light of a city set upon a hill which could not be hidden. Hum. And that precisely sounds a lot like something Jesus said His people should be.
Brethren – let’s live out our faith in Christ in a way that honors and pleases God.—Mike Vestal