Guess who’s back? Back again? Bet you never thought you’d read Eminem lyrics on a Christian-faith-based blog, did ya? I’m telling you.. God works in mysterious ways. Mostly, He gave me more than enough confidence to share not only my writing abilities, but my tendency to rap (also, if you’re looking for a cleaner version of Eminem then check out KJ – I swear he sounds just like him only you don’t have to worry about the lyrics).
Anyway. This post is about James, not Eminem.
We’re back for the third part of The Book of James Bible Study! This means we’re just over halfway there and if you’ve been diving into this book with me, then I hope you are finding just as much value and joy in these readings that I have found.
If you’re new here, no worries. You can quickly catch up:
- Book of James Bible Study Chapter 1 – Living what we say we believe, and
- Book of James Bible Study Chapter 2 – Faith and works
So far, we’ve learned some really valuable life lessons from these other two chapters. We’ve learned that if we’re going to talk the talk, we need to also be walking the walk. We can’t model a “do as I say, not as I do” mentality, but we have to buy in 100% to what we’re saying, and show it with our actions. Daily.
We’ve also learned that faith without works is dead. I’ll keep saying it until it’s drilled in. We have to be living proof of our faith. We can’t pray empty prayers; when we pray with benevolence we are showing God’s grace to those who need it.
Two concepts that really go hand in hand. Which leads us to the third chapter in James with two central themes: taming the tongue, and two kinds of wisdom. Grab your coffee and settle in because this chapter keeps getting better and better!
James Chapter 3 Summary
Taming the Tongue
You would think after 11 years of marriage my husband and I would be professionals at taming our tongues. Nope. Wrong. I think we’ve only gotten feistier the longer we’ve been joined in holy matrimony. Yet another reason this James study has been speaking to my soul. I think God has been trying to point out some life lessons I’ve needed to learn. Thanks, God. Always looking out.
“Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body.”James 3:5-6 NIV
Raise your hand (don’t worry, I can’t see you) if you’ve ever lived this moment in the flesh between you and your spouse. Or anyone for that matter.
But I think we all can relate. You’re tired, you’ve just spent the entire day working, dealing with clients or customers, carpooling your kids to and from everywhere in God’s green earth, cleaning up after the dogs, cleaning the house, helping with homework, cooking dinner, packing lunches for the next day, and you’re just about to start on the two week old pile of laundry sitting in the basket when your spouse walks in and utters one word the wrong way that sends your head spinning. It’s the final straw that breaks the camel’s back (and in this instance, you, my friend, are the camel), and an entire world war erupts in your home.
It’s amazing how leaving the toilet paper holder empty can do that to a person.
Far too many fights have started over trivial things. But just like God said.. consider the forest set on fire by one small spark. Consider the fire that starts between two people because of one word thrown hastily in anger.
Our words have power.
“With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.” – James 3:9-10 NIV.
Think about it for a minute. James is right. One moment we are praying and identifying as “good” Christians, and the next we’re bashing one another on social media. That’s not how God wants us to behave. It goes back to the lesson we learned about earlier that we have to learn God’s word, and then go do the things we learn. We have to practice kindness – even when it’s slowly eating away at us at times. Because I can be the first to admit seeing certain posts on social media rile me up. Seeing that empty toilet paper roll riles me up. Getting cut off and a middle finger flung at me through someone’s open car window riles me up.
And I let it show. Often. We all sin. We all fall short of the glory of God. But we have to want more, right? We have to want to be better, and we have to remember these words and try our hardest to apply them each and every day.
Have you ever been told that you’re not good enough? Have you ever been made to feel less than?
Have you been told you’re not pretty enough? Not thin enough? Not smart enough? Not talented enough?
Those words stayed with you, right? You gave those words power. You believed them, you remembered them, and then you started to live your life according to them.
The same goes for the words we use when we are speaking to or about another human being, including ourselves. When we speak poorly to ourselves, we start to believe the words we use and then we start to change the way we live according to those lies we start believing. We give them power.
But what happens when we change that narrative? What happens when we start to speak kindly? Not only to other people but to ourselves? Our mindset starts to shift. Our moods start to improve. We start finding purpose in what God intends for us to carry out.
Words have power, friends. Both good and bad. Words carry the spark that light the flame and can set the whole forest on fire. So choose them and speak them wisely.
Two Kinds of Wisdom
What motivates you in life?
As a personal trainer + nutritionist I am constantly talking to my clients about motivation. It’s a hot button topic because motivation is something that comes and goes. We aren’t always motivated. There are days we work our tails off and then other days we sit around binge watching shows on Netflix with no desire to get up and go be productive members of society, right?
But we have to find ways to keep pushing through even on the days we don’t feel exactly motivated to do such.
God talks to us about motivation in this third chapter of James. He asks us to sit back and think for a moment about what motivates us.
“For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.”James 3:16-18 NIV
Are we motivated intrinsically, or extrinsically? Are we motivated by material things of this world and our own selfish ambitions, or are we motivated by all that comes from God? Are we motivated by His plans for us; to live our lives in a way that glorifies Him?
I am an ambitious person. This can be a difficult concept for me because I want to succeed. I want to build something myself, I want to provide for my family, and I like nice things. I crave success.
But not until this last year did I start looking at how I was approaching these ambitions, and did I start seeking out how I could fulfill what I was doing in a way that carried out God’s word and His plan.
I don’t do it perfectly. But I try to look at every situation as an opportunity to be a living testimony.
God is telling us to be careful here. Heavenly wisdom comes from God, and man-made wisdom, which comes from the world, is destined to fail. No matter how successful it may seem in the beginning. It’s like the pyramid scheme that promises you once you invest, you’ll be building your own business and making millions in no time. Except that very rarely happens, right? Seemed like a good idea in the beginning, but it was destined to fail even before you signed up and dove in head first.
In order to achieve righteousness, we have to learn to discern between earthly wisdom, and holy wisdom. We have to actively learn the word of God, apply it on a regular basis, and choose our words carefully. We have to seek out what pleases Him, and leave behind when what pleases the world overshadows what God has in store for us.
Plus, a truly wise person knows when to keep their mouth shut, right? They know fighting over that empty toilet paper holder isn’t going to end well. They realize that in uttering negative self-lies they’re diminishing their Godly qualities.
Think, act, and speak wisely, my friends. Now if you’ll excuse me , I need to make sure the bathrooms are stocked with toilet paper.