James 4:11-17 What is Your Life?

James 4-11-17 (audio file)

Here we are again in James. Today we are reading more from Chapter 4. I am actually including part of our text from last week because we didn’t really address it, and it flows into our passage for this week.

If you weren’t here last week what you missed was us addressing James speaking to us about the root cause of quarrels and fights. He said it was our passions inside of us, passions the want to elevate ourselves and put ourselves on the throne of our hearts, which is an inversion of the created order, and not reflective of what actually exists. You see the truth is that there is one throne in heaven, and God is on it. When we subvert that order in our own hearts, we are not reflecting the reality that exists, and we begin to believe the lie that we should be gods too. We learned that in order to avoid, and diffuse fights and quarrels, we should, Submit ourselves to God, Resist the Devil, and draw near to God, through the cross of Jesus.

Today we are going to see two ways that our speech can reveal our view of God’s power and work in our lives. Have you ever heard the phrase out of the abundance heart, the mouth speaks? Well Jesus said that to the pharisees in the book of Matthew, when he was calling them out for their hypocrisy about thinking that their outward cleanliness will lead to inward cleanliness, and speaking a truth that will ring true to us today, What you believe in your heart will come out of your mouth. Jesus was resetting their understanding of change. He said, if you want to be clean on the outside, your inside must be clean first, then what comes out will be clean. So, if you want to know what is inside your heart, you can start by evaluating what comes out of your mouth.

James is going to illustrate that truth in two ways for us today. Lets read…

SO, at first glance, it seems that there are two different subjects in this text, and to some extent there are, but what I want to draw out of these two texts is the truth that how we talk about others, and how we talk about our future, both reveal our view of God.

I am going to deal with these two separately, and then tie them together with how they both speak to the same truth.

1. Do not Speak Evil. So, this seems pretty simplistic right, no one was caught off guard by that were they? I mean, if anyone has even heard of the movie Bambi, they know that if you cant say anything nice…. what? We know we shouldn’t talk bad about others. We learn that as children right? has anyone ever been somewhere with a young child and they point to someone else and say something that totally mortifies you?

I have a story that I want to share with you from a friend of mine. She posted this on Facebook, and I do have permission.

“Picture It –> I’m at the grocery store, only with Lorrie.

Suddenly, she says very loudly: “Mom! LOOK! That woman is REALLY old!”

I quieted her as best as I could, and when the woman left, I said: “Sometimes we see people who are old, or fat or look different than us. It’s okay if you talk to me about it. You just have to say it very quietly.”

A little while later, Lorrie saw someone who looked a little bit different and she decided to tell me about it. She leaned over, and whispered: “Mom. You’re fat.””

There is something that we learn when we are very young right that we don’t highlight others faults, because that is hurtful to them, even though from our perspective it could be true. Later in life we learn to use this to our benefit, that if we want to hurt someone, we can say evil things to them. When we are kids we are just stating the obvious, but when we get older, we are using our speech as a weapon. Now, you may think that they are just words right, no big deal. But I think we should all be a little worried when we face the truth in this text that what lies beneath the words is far more serious than air passing through muscles in your throat.

So, what is the heart beneath evil words towards another person? What allows us to think that we are the judge of other people? Well, frankly, our text tells us that when we speak evil against another person, it is because we think we are God, and we have taken into our own hands the power to judge.

When you speak evil against a brother, you put yourself on the judgment seat. Defining who should be saved, and destroyed. v. 11

Notice that he uses the word Brother to describe who we are speaking evil against. Why is that judging the law? Because if that person is a brother or sister in Christ, than Jesus has declared them clean, and righteous, by Hs finished work on the cross. So if you say evil things against them, you are in effect saying that Jesus got it wrong.

Once again, you are subverting the true order that James then tells us. v. 12

This reveals that you think that your judgment is above God’s.

So, What about Boasting about tomorrow? What does that reveal about our hearts. …

You have no control over tomorrow, so why do you boast about it or put things off till it?

Essentially he says to them, look, those of you who think you know what tomorrow holds, and you are puffed up in your talk about what you are going to do, in life or business, or whatnot, he says, you are a mist, you are here in the morning, and gone, in the morning. Who do you think you are? You cannot add an hour to your life by your planning, or your boasting.

As we saw in the New Testament text, you don’t know if your soul is demanded of you tonight. Let me tell you about some of my cousin’s plans for this year…. Now, I am not saying she was boasting in her plans, but that Iran example of the truth that you can make plans, but you really have no control over how they will turnout, cause you are not God!

What does boasting in our plans tell us and others about what is in our hearts? This text tells us that we think we are God.

He doesn’t tell us not to make plans, but that we should recognize in all our. Plans that they are dependent on God’s will, not our own powers.

Most of you who have been here for a while know this first hand do you not? If you don’t know, I will make it simple, last year at this time, this church was looking for a pastor, and there were somewhere around 300 applicants, if I’m correct, and guess what, I was not one of them. That’s all I Will say about the churches position since I wasn’t there, but I do want to tell you what I was doing and thinking about this time last year.

I want to read an excerpt from a prayer journal entry that I wrote in December of 2011 that explains my heart and what I was planning.

“Lord, there are so many things going on in our lives that we need your help on. Right now I really would like you to speak to my heart in the area of our next step in pursuing ministry. Lord, Bek and I both feel that your have called and gifted me for pastoral ministry. Yet, we don’t feel that you have made us for SGM…..Give me clarity on the next step for us as a family. Lord, i feel that you might be calling us to plant a church in Powhatan. If that is so, please continue to open the doors to make that possible. You said in the sermon on the mount that those who ask receive, those who seek find, and to those who knock, the door will be opened to them. Lord, I am asking that you will show yourself strong to us, and to my family, and to the people of Powhatan, who have yet to yield their lives to your Lordship…..Help both Rebekah and myself to see where you are moving and walk in that direction.“

So, I think all of us are surprised that today the congregation will decide if I am going to be here permanently….

So, it is not ultimately that we don’t plan because we are fatalistic and Go will just knock down our plans anyway. Sometimes/usually it is that God has better plans for us than we can imagine, and if we are yielded to Him, and His plan, we are ready for whatever change in those plans he might bring to us.

Don’t speak evil, cause you are not God, don’t boast about tomorrow, because you are not God…

There is one final statement in this passage that I want to leave us with. Lets look at v. 17….

…don’t put off what you know you should do, because that is sin.

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