October 7, 2021

It Seems Everyone is Violating God's Law of Love lately! The Book of James Bible Series


Happy Thursday, Friends!  It's time to dig into more of James! I'm so grateful that the Lord highlighted this letter for us to focus on this year... it is so needed and has been so helpful!
You know the drill: Grab something yummy to drink, get your Bible, and let's dive in!


We begin by reading our verses together here from The Passion Translation Bible:

"Dear friends, as part of God’s family, never speak against another family member, for when you slander a brother or sister you violate God’s law of love. And your duty is not to make yourself a judge of the law of love by saying that it doesn’t apply to you, but your duty is to obey it! There is only one true Lawgiver and Judge, the One who has the power to save and destroy—so who do you think you are to judge your neighbor.

Listen, those of you who are boasting, “Today or tomorrow we’ll go to another city and spend some time and go into business and make heaps of profit!” But you don’t have a clue what tomorrow may bring. For your fleeting life is but a warm breath of air that is visible in the cold only for a moment and then vanishes! Instead you should say, “Our tomorrows are in the Lord’s hands and if he is willing we will live life to its fullest and do this or that.” But here you are, boasting in your ignorance, for to be presumptuous about what you’ll do tomorrow is evil!

So if you know of an opportunity to do the right thing today, yet you refrain from doing it, you’re guilty of sin." (The Passion Translation)

Listen,  I feel the need once again to point out that this was not MY idea! I am not the one who thought going through the book of James in such a difficult time would be fun! God put it on my heart and made it so clear that I could not NOT do it --so, here we are!  

Here we are in a world and culture where it certainly FEELS like everyone --every single one!-- is violating God's law of love! (I mean... right? It's not just me?) It FEELS like everyone is making themselves a Judge of the law while not actually putting ourselves under that law!

I can't recall in all of my years as a believer on this earth a time when the Church was so divided. I mean - sure... we've always had our issues --but it seems the divide is wider and wider, greater and greater... it can be exhausting just thinking about it! But here we are -- reading James and hearing him tell us not to judge but instead simply obey the law of love... don't talk poorly or gossip about a brother or sister (--But, but, but...?!--) 
I'm going to even go a step further... how about we allow this to include even harboring thoughts against our brothers and sisters and neighbors! I think some of us have matured enough to actually not want to start a fight or stir things up - and long gone is the lost art of conversating with someone we disagree with in calm and collected ways! Instead - we have one extreme or the other... either there is fake drama and all kinds of arguments or there is seeming passivity and silence. But it's our thoughts that run wild, even if/when our tongue is held tight.

Next, let's read our verses in The Voice:

"My brothers and sisters, do not assault each other with criticism. If you decide your job is to accuse and judge another believer, then you are a self-appointed critic and judge of the law; if so, then you are no longer a doer of the law and subject to its rule; you stand over it as a judge. Know this—there is One who stands supreme as Judge and Lawgiver. He alone is able to save and to destroy, so who are you to step in and try to judge another?

Listen carefully, those of you who make your plans and say, “We are traveling to this city in the next few days. We’ll stay there for one year while our business explodes and revenue is up.” The reality is you have no idea where your life will take you tomorrow. You are like a mist that appears one moment and then vanishes another. It would be best to say, “If it is the Lord’s will and we live long enough, we hope to do this project or pursue that dream.” But your current speech indicates an arrogance that does not acknowledge the One who controls the universe, and this kind of big talking is the epitome of evil. So if you know the right way to live and ignore it, it is sin—plain and simple." (The Voice)

I will say this past year has helped us break this bad habit of making plans way into the future! In this season, we're not even sure if the restaurants will be open to letting us dine inside for dinner over the weekend! I think we've come face to face with the reality that we are, in fact, like a mist that appears one moment and then vanishes another!

And it all comes down to this, right? This last portion in verse 17 that says: "So if you know the right way to live and ignore it, it is sin --plain and simple."

Woah... Selah --pause in His presence on that one for a moment!


We don't usually use this Paraphrase, but let's look at The Living Bible:

"Don’t criticize and speak evil about each other, dear brothers. If you do, you will be fighting against God’s law of loving one another, declaring it is wrong. But your job is not to decide whether this law is right or wrong, but to obey it. Only he who made the law can rightly judge among us. He alone decides to save us or destroy. So what right do you have to judge or criticize others?

Look here, you people who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to such and such a town, stay there a year, and open up a profitable business.” How do you know what is going to happen tomorrow? For the length of your lives is as uncertain as the morning fog—now you see it; soon it is gone. What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we shall live and do this or that.” Otherwise you will be bragging about your own plans, and such self-confidence never pleases God.

Remember, too, that knowing what is right to do and then not doing it is sin." (The Living Bible)

Again - knowing what is right to do and then not doing it is sin. Plain and simple. No way around it. (And here's the thing -- we may not know everything but we DO know some things! We know some things are right and some are wrong. If/when we don't do what we know to do - it is accounted to us as sin. 

We know we are called to love... to give grace... knowing it and not doing it, guys-- that's the hard part! It becomes sin to us and we must repent and ask the Lord to help us walk this out and enable us to love the way He loves!


Lastly, my favorite translation: The Message Bible:

"Don’t bad-mouth each other, friends. It’s God’s Word, his Message, his Royal Rule, that takes a beating in that kind of talk. You’re supposed to be honoring the Message, not writing graffiti all over it. God is in charge of deciding human destiny. Who do you think you are to meddle in the destiny of others?

And now I have a word for you who brashly announce, “Today—at the latest, tomorrow—we’re off to such and such a city for the year. We’re going to start a business and make a lot of money.” You don’t know the first thing about tomorrow. You’re nothing but a wisp of fog, catching a brief bit of sun before disappearing. Instead, make it a habit to say, “If the Master wills it and we’re still alive, we’ll do this or that.”

As it is, you are full of your grandiose selves. All such vaunting self-importance is evil. In fact, if you know the right thing to do and don’t do it, that, for you, is evil." (The Message Bible)

A Wisp of fog...  We forget! We forget that this is not our Home and life on earth here is so fleeting... a wisp of fog, a bit of sun, and then, poof - vanished! In but a moment, we will be about our Father's business in our forever home... so let us obey the Law of Love and put it into practice here and now... bridging the gap and preparing for our future!


Let's pray: 

Father God, You come boldly to your throne of Grace and we come with a grateful heart - even in the middle of all the chaos surrounding our world right now! Lord, given the temperature of our current culture - putting James' words here into action seem impossible --but we know with You, nothing is impossible! We ask, Holy Spirit, for your guidance... enable us to obey the law of love and to not bad-mouth or gossip or tear down others... but instead to show grace and mercy, love and patience! We want to be Your hands and feet, Your heart and hope to those around us.  We know, God, there IS a time to speak and a time to be quiet --help us to know the difference and to discern the times. 

Remind us, Jesus, that this life is not our end goal --but to be with You in the next one is! Empower us to live like You lived and to love like You love... and to not violate Your law but to willingly obey it, making sure that we do not forget that we are not in charge, but You are!  Help us to remember to let You be in charge... and to make our plans loosely, giving them over to You for direction and blessing! Lord - show us the right thing to do --and then prompt us to do it so that we may not sin against You!  We want to shine brightly and love well --so much so that not only will others know we are Christians by our love - but that they will want to be part of the Family of God, too!

For the King and His Kingdom,
In Jesus' Name!

I don't know about you guys - but if I'm honest, this was a hard portion of Scripture because it feels --especially in recent times!-- nearly impossible! We know it's not. 

Here's the thing: I hate confrontation... healthy or not - I prefer to avoid it. 

I know... it's not great! We need healthy confrontation. We do. So - holding my tongue and trying not to make waves -- this Enneagram 2 is on board for that. However, it has also felt like the line in the sand is being drawn and many have been silent for too long.  

It's a difficult task - to speak up and speak truth when it feels so extremely controversial! Then we read these verses in James and we know it's a harder job than we thought because we need to speak up - without tearing anyone else down! We want justice, but we must not forget that we are not the Judge --only God is!  The world is watching and sadly it seems like in recent times the Church has turned in on itself and is eating its' own. We'd rather do this - than to obey the Law of Love.  We even turn on each other when talking about what it looks like to actually walk out said Law of Love! 

Listen, Church... a hurting world is watching and oh my goodness, they are supposed to know us by our Love.  So let's take these words in James to heart and stop bad-mouthing the family of God... and instead, let us pray! (For ourselves and for 'them' and for our great good God to be made famous and for faith and hope and patience knowing the One True Judge will come and make all things right.)

Until next time,

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