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God is in control, and Jesus relied totally on God. James isn’t telling us not to plan ahead, but warning us against the arrogance of thinking we are lord of our own lives. If we don’t know God then we can know him today. If we do know God then we can trust him today.
If we focus on other people’s faults, we don’t keep our eyes on what we should be doing. We shouldn’t judge others because when we do, we are looking in the wrong place with a wrong attitude, we are putting ourselves above the law, and we damage church unity. We should deal with our own faults, loving others instead of judging, and remembering that it’s up to God to judge.
We mustn’t have a domesticated view of Jesus. He is exalted in heaven, and our appropriate response is one of worship and repentance. He is also enthroned, and so we should live as a community of kingdom people. And he is also active, pouring out his Spirit. We may be in Lockdown, but Heaven is still open.
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.
James is addressing people who may be experience many big changes in their lives and are not copying or responding well, so he points them to the wisdom of God - its source, which is Jesus who is the wisdom of God; its character; and its outcome. We can bless the world around us by making peace because we have listened to Jesus.
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.
We are reminded of the importance of being spiritually awake and alert. There has been a long wait for Jesus to return, and we need to be careful how we handle this wait - the reason for the delay is so that everybody can hear the gospel. We need to be prepared - we can’t rely on the spirituality or prayerfulness of others.
Jesus was the heavenly Son of Man of Daniel 7 and yet he came to serve. not to be served. He was glorified as he was lifted upon the cross, with a thief on either side of him. James and John didn’t know what they were asking for when they asked to sit on either side of him.