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Many of our desires are good, but we are looking in the wrong place to satisfy them. We need to remember to ask God. God gives us his Spirit, and we are invited to humble ourselves and draw near to God.
Just as a horse’s bit and a ship’s rudder can control the direction of the horse or ship, so the tongue has a great implication to the direction of our lives. We can try our hardest to control our tongue, but it cannot be tamed. James warns us that how we use the tongue is important, and although we are all judged by the same standard, teachers will be judged more strictly.
James gives us an encouragement - to love our neighbours whether they’re similar to us or not; a challenge - not to show favouritism, which can be a lot more subtle than in the example James gives; and an assurance - mercy triumphs over judgment, so we no longer have to strive to be accepted.
We need to change not just our actions but also our hearts, which we do by humbly accepting the word planted in us. We accept this by obeying it. True religion involves a change in the way we speak, a concern for the most vulnerable and keeping ourselves from being corrupted by the world.
There are four steps to dealing with our inner desires and temptations. We should keep our eye on the end goal; realise where the temptation comes from and where it leads; deal with our desire, not just our actions; and remember God’s goodness and good gifts to us.
What do we rejoice in? Jesus talks about the deceitfulness of wealth. We shouldn’t rejoice in our wealth or our lack of it, but in Christ and our position in him. Our hope is in Jesus, and we are living for him not for better jobs or better houses.
How do we respond to the trials of life? We are to respond with joy, not because the trials are enjoyable in themselves but because we recognise what God is doing through them. Let’s allow perseverance to finish its work.