Tuesday, March 24

What should we do? Part III

At Quest, we have been continuing to discuss the question of what we should be doing if we are really going to be followers of Jesus. We've been using the book of James to help us explore the answer to that question. As we have looked at this question, we have noticed that there really is both an internal and and external response to this question. The internal response to following Jesus is a spiritual response that affects the development of our character and our relationship with God. The external response relates to the world around us and affects our relationship with others and the actions we take in our life. In Part III of our discussion, we looked at James chapter 3. Here is some of what we discussed:

  • The first part of the chapter talks a lot about the tongue and what we say. It compares the tongue to the rudder of a ship or the bit in the mouth of a horse. A rudder is small compared to the size of the ship. The bit is small compared to the size of the horse. However, both are used for control and steering. It is rudder that guides the ship to where the captain wants it to go. If you can control the rudder, you can control the ship. However, if the rudder is broken, it becomes impossible to make the ship go where you want it to. Similarly, our tongues can help us get to where we want to go in life.
  • We could all think of times when we said things that caused damage to ourselves or our relationships with others. Sometimes, it's because we intentionally decide to say hurtful things. Other times it's because we were just talking, and something came out. In those cases, there was no hurt intended, but hurt certainly happened. Unfortunately, once you say something, you can't un-say it. It's out there. No matter how hard you reach or grab, you can't get it back. When we don't watch what we say, we can hurt people, and when followers of Jesus hurt people, it can drive them away from Jesus.
  • So part of our response to following Jesus is going to be controlling what we say externally. This fits in with James' instruction in 1:10 that we should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger. If we can consistently do those things, we should be able to watch what we say. However, this is more difficult than you might think. In fact, James tells us that "If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check." (James 3:2). This is because, as Jesus said, it is "out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks." (Matthew 12:34). As we come closer to Jesus, we should see a change in our character. As our heart changes, what comes out of our mouth should change as well.
  • In the second half of the chapter, James talks about wisdom. He reminds us that the wisdom from heaven is pure, peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial, and sincere. (James 3:17). When we are truly following Jesus, we should see these characteristics showing up in our lives. These should be replacing the wisdom of the world, which is based in bitter envy and selfish ambition. (v. 13-16) This envy and selfish ambition lead to disorder and every evil practice.
  • As we truly follow after Jesus, we should see our character change. As our character changes, we should see the things that we say and the things that we do start to change, because those things spring from our character.
That should give you a good feel for our conversation about James 3. Next time, we'll take a look at James chapter 4.

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