Oh, Sweet Conviction: James

I was reading in James this morning. I had to stop. After a heaping load of conviction for the morning, I found myself bowing once more before the throne of Grace. Isn’t it the most wonderful thing to be able to talk to the God who made me (and the world and everything in it) in repentance and know that He looks on me with love and forgiveness, not condemnation.

First there is this one:

“All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 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 3:8-10

Ouch. Maybe when I’ve lived a good 70 or 80 years I’ll develop a filter that works before at least a couple syllables come out. Then, there’s this reminder that I need every. day.

“God resists the proud,
But gives grace to the humble” 4:6

Double ouch. But in between these is a gem that hadn’t quite sunk this deep before:

“But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” 3:17-18

As I looked at the verses in context (chapter three through the end of fourish) the verses seemed to have a couple common threads. Sometimes I find it difficult to see the big picture when so many individual verses are so challenging. But I noticed two main things, and (since everyone else in my house is still sleeping) I wanted to share them with you!

First, and more obvious is the implications of these verses when you add other humans to the mix. An unbridled tongue dishonors God even if I were the only person in the room. Add other fallen people to the mix though, and you’ve created a completely different situation with a myriad of possible consequences. Also, I could claim to be gentle and willing to yield right now while I’m the only conscious human in probably at least a half-a-mile radius. But were you to add even one person to this room, say a sister in Christ that has completely different gifts and passions, I might find it a wee bit more difficult to be “willing to yield” or “full of mercy” or even impartial, don’t forget all those other fruits of righteousness sown in peace. So, thing to do number one, stop fighting for my way. As long as _____________ doesn’t conflict with Scripture, it doesn’t matter if there seems to me to be a “better” way.

Secondly, the whole section seemed to have a general outward motion. Not me, but you. I’m very visual, so I tend to doodle (even just mentally) as I read. I can just picture this circle surrounded by arrows facing outward. Every section deals with some sin struggle. Each time time James seems to be saying, “Not for your ______________ (boasting, self-seeking, pleasure, amusement, pride, etc), but for His glory, their edification, their benefit, their grace. Wow. How selfish am I?!

I have been thinking and therefore talking with friends about family life a lot. My youngest is six months. I can just barely see a light at the end of the tunnel as far as being able to keep up with chores, school, ministry, life in general! How often do we (especially in this time with lots of itty-bitties) say “I”? A young family can make it difficult to do many things for others. (Oh, I’m eating my 20 year old words! “We’re not going to rearrange our whole lives when we have kids!” Ha!) But to look at my stack of laundry or my unswept floors (more like swept for the fourth time but needing it again already) and say I don’t have time to _________ is still saying I, instead of Him or they.

When my husband brings home a table full of people for me to feed, or the neighborhood kids come over or someone stops by for a warm beverage, it absolutely blesses my day. If spontaneous hospitality is such a beautiful thing, why on earth won’t I plan hospitality or service to someone in need or time discipling younger believers and do an even better job at it?!

We live in a busy culture. You’ve heard it before. Trying to balance my diligence in keeping this home for the Lord, edifying other believers and caring for others around me is (by far) my biggest challenge right now. It probably will be for a long time, but I feel like my availability will change as my babes get older. I just pray that I am hard-working and useful for the Lord, and that my children will see a Kingdom-mindedness that is neither self-serving nor neglectful.

And that my friends is what brought me tearfully before my Savior this morning. I treasure your thoughts if you care to share.

Oh to grace, how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be.
Let thy goodness like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to thee.
Prone to wander Lord I feel it; prone to leave the God I love.
Here’s my heart Lord take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above.

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