Speaking Evil

James 4:11 “Do not speak evil of one another, brethren…” 
James 4:13 “Come now, you who say…”

James seems to be particularly interested in what the Christian has to say. In the last chapter, he spent a great deal of time talking about the tongue. In this chapter, he comes back to the topic of what we are saying. He refers to at least two kinds of evil speaking. The first would be critical or judgmental speech.

James 4:11 “Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judges.”

Jesus warned us not to judge one another, and James explains why; God alone is the Judge. We have been given the Word in order to obey it. It is the Word of God that must determine our behavior. The person who sets aside the Word of God, and decides for himself how he will live, is guilty of judging the law. To him James would say, “There is one Lawgiver who is able to save or destroy . . .” (James 4:12).

Christians are often accused of being judgmental, when it is really a persons own sin that judges them. Someone might be invited to church, be welcomed, be encouraged in prayer, and fed. Yet, when they leave, they claim they felt judged by Christians because they said it is wrong to party, do drugs or live in an adulterous relationship. The Christian did not judge them, the law did. The reason the law judges us, is so we might respond to Christ’s offer to forgive us. Jesus said, He did not come to condemn but to save (John 3:17). It is after the law of God convicts us, that we realize we need to be saved. Do not be a lawgiver, but a law abider, by surrendering yourself to Christ and living according to His Word.

Another type of speech that is warned against, is making life plans without seeking God. James refers to it as boasting. In this case, James is not teaching us how to speak, as much as how to live. We need to be those who seek to find the mind of God, or the will of God, for our lives. God has a plan for your life. He cares where you live, where you work, who you marry. If we will spend time with Him, He will make His will known to us. Sometimes, His will is progressive, meaning, we are not given step two until we have taken step one. It was like that for Paul. When he asked the Lord what to do, Jesus responded, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do” (Acts 9:6). Once God makes His will clear to us, it is sin to disobey.

His will seems to fit into two categories. We might refer to them as the general, and specific will of God. The general will of God is true for all of us, and is clearly presented in the pages of the Bible. The specific will of God refers to the plans that God has for you as an individual. Those things are only found when you spend time seeking God. It is the specific will of God which James refers to in this passage. You will not find a chapter and verse telling you who to marry. But you will find much in Scripture about the character of whom to marry. You will not find the answer to what job to take, but you will find direction on how to work. You will not find what college to go to, but you will find what are the most important matters to pursue in life, and what pitfalls to avoid.

Instead of trying to navigate through life on our own, let’s be sure we spend time seeking the Lord in His Word, in order to find His will for our lives.

Pastor Jim

 

 

Time Management 

Psalm 90:10
“The days of our lives are seventy years; and if by reason of strength they are eighty years.”

When we are young we think we will live forever; death, even aging, is for other people. As we age, we still cannot imagine a world of which we are not a part. Yet, the Psalmist is making clear, we have been designed by God with a shelf life. In other words, one day we will expire. The bodies that we live in will no longer be able to sustain life, and we will move on to an eternal habitation. James put it like this, “For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away  (James 4:14). The word ‘vapor’ is defined as, “diffused matter floating in the air impairing its transparency.” In other words, a vapor is only slightly more than nothing. It speaks of the fact that life on earth is transitory, not permanent. This does not mean that life is meaningless.

God actually places the highest value upon human life. We know He formed us in the womb as the highest expression of His creation. We are told we are made in the image of God, and after the fall we were redeemed by the blood of God. That being said, it is possible to live a meaningless life. The Bible speaks, on more than one occasion, of “worthless men.” Calling them worthless does not mean that God did not value them highly, but rather, they were wasting life, instead of living it. When they timed out and their lives came to an end, they had nothing eternal to show for it. When James refers to life as a vapor, he is reminding us that life is temporary.

No matter what your diet or exercise program consists of, death is certain. It has been proven that the death rate among human beings is 100%. One hundred years from now none of us will be alive. Now I am not saying this to depress you, but to prepare you. You see, while life is temporary it is also preparatory. What we do now prepares us for where and how we will spend eternity. We might benefit from thinking of life as the preliminary round. When asked the meaning of life, Rick Warren put it like this, “In a nutshell, life is preparation for eternity. We were made to last forever and God wants us to be in heaven with Him. We may spend 60-100 years here but we will spend trillions in heaven. This is the warm up act”

We are prepared for death when we have received Christ and are surrendered to, and serving Him. As a result, the Psalmist encourages us, “So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom (Psalm 90:12).”  Since we have limited time, seventy or perhaps eighty years, we are encouraged to number them. We need to understand, there is a limited number and we must spend them wisely.

Let’s do it. * 70 x 365 = 25,550 * , now multiply your age x 365 *, subtract that number from 25, 550 * I have 8,760 days left * I am 65% done. Another way of looking at it is, if my life were a book, I am two-thirds done. The plot has been set, the main characters developed, and the final act is being set up. The question we must ask ourselves is, “What are we writing on today’s page? What, from today, will last for eternity?” If we have prepared for eternity by receiving Christ, we further prepare by living each day in light of eternity.

“Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth.” Proverbs 27:1

Pastor Jim