In continuing in the subject of humility before God, James is opening our eyes with three
examples of how easily our pride and self determination can rear its ugly head in our daily lives. In what we know, what we do and what we have. In our knowledge; we lift ourselves up as a standard or criteria to judge others. In our Goals and plans which represent our values; we proclaim what we are going to do to improve our situation as if we have the power to control life’s circumstances. In our possessions; we gain and spend our wealth on ourselves or flaunt it as if we are all that really matters and without regard to eternal values or accountability, regardless of the needs of others around us. (picture credit: – pericope.org)
Boasting about what we know
4:11Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. 12 There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?
Boasting About what we Do
13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. 17 Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.
Boasting about what we Have
5 Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you. 2 Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. 3 Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. 4 Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. 5 You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. 6 You have condemned and murdered innocent men, who were not opposing you.
Who are you Lord?
I AM the only righteous judge and I wrote the Law as a reflection of my Holiness. My standard is perfection, not your human based interpretation of what you think is adequate. You are all lost in comparison to my law. I save every one of you not based on law, but my mercy. You all are in the same sinking boat of sin and need my Son to save you. So why can’t you extend mercy to one another, and concentrate on letting me change you into my likeness? Then you can help your brother in mercy with the light that I have given you rather than judge him.
I AM the God who knows everyone’s future, so who are you to boast of your future as is if you had power over it? When I was walking this earth, “my will was to do the will of him who sent me”. I had no personal agenda so that I could meet the needs of everyone of whom I came in contact with. “My food was to do the will of the Father.” My eyes were on the eternal purposes of God that He would reveal his glory through me to the eyes of the world. What are you living for? “Lift up your eyes to the harvest” in the here and now. I see your every tomorrow. I know the pride in your hearts. Remember that you will be brought to account for what you could have done with your life, not just what you do with it. Think of all those lost opportunities to live for me that you squandered on yourself, they will be brought to light one day. Live each day as if it is your last, but make sure that it is for something worth dying for -Me.
I AM a jealous God.
“I AM the Lord and you shall have no other gods before me.” What you live for and spend your money on shows me where your heart kneels. You may not see it because your heart has deceived you, but I can. I AM the God who sees the secrets of your heart and rewards accordingly. Therefore, humble yourself before me and tear down your idols of wealth, and live your life on the altar of sacrifice before your idols testify against you for eternity. “You cannot have two masters both God and money.” If I am your God then you will spend your money on what I desire. If you are your own God then you will spend your money on what you desire. For where your treasure is that will be where your heart is also and vise versa.
I AM NOT your short order cook taking your orders for wealth, health and happiness so that you can go about your daily life oblivious to who I AM. I have given you this short life on earth to know me, and in doing so ready yourself for eternity. I AM worthy of knowing. Humility comes from knowing me properly so that you can speak the truth in love bringing others into a proper relationship with me. The truth of my Word will set men free. Remember that the authority is in my word, not your thinking. Let humility guide you in bringing others to salvation in me. Holiness is communicated best by your lifestyle; salvation is communicated by your words.
Helping others without judging
Comparing others to your standards is self deluding and self defeating. By setting yourself up as the standard you are condemning yourself for every time you fail to live by that same standard, and you carry the greater judgment claiming that you know better. We all fall in the same way as everyone else just in different forms of the root sin. The mote in someone else’s eye is a log in our own. Humility treads lightly but at the same time strives to help others overcome those same weaknesses that they see but know that they also have. Discipleship is teaching others what we have learned to overcome in those same areas.
Good intentions won’t cut it
Living in the hope of future riches is folly, for what if those plans fail? You will you have to account for your wasted time dreaming of the future. Every day will judge you for what could have been accomplished by doing good around you to those in need in the here and now. Good intentions do not cut it. God hears your verbal intent, but he knows your secret motive too. Or what if those plans succeed? Then you will be accountable for those riches you intended to use for noble purposes but spent on yourself instead.
Living for riches is like a two edged sword. Can you handle it? For what you spend your money on will testify before God at the judgment as to who your Lord really was. It is easy to say ahead of time, “if I had a million dollars; I would give most of it to God’s work”, but once in your hand you can’t see the wisdom of giving it all away and still having to pay taxes on it. So you need more but then it winds up getting spent on yourself instead. It is realistic to say that if you do not give out of your poverty, then you will not give out of your abundance. Even when you do give out of your abundance, it probably would not be worth as much to God as the widow’s mite anyway depending upon your attitude. We all feel that our little contribution to the church doesn’t do much, but in reality the church is mostly supported by poor people because they see the value in giving. However, being poor does not automatically make you a sacrificial giver, just as being rich does not make you an idolater of money.
The bottom line is humility in everything we think, do and own. What you use your knowledge, plans and money on reveals your heart. God’s Word, his Will and his Work should take prominence in our lives and should affect how we live this life. His Word gives us life and we should share it with others so that they may live by knowing God. His Will for us is to live like Christ, putting God’s agenda before our own. His Work in this world is to save men and he desires that we join him in it. If that doesn’t humble us, nothing will.
Lazarus and the Rich Man:
People think that riches send you to hell and poverty to heaven. Not so. However, the story of Lazarus and the rich man show us what their Gods were. The rich man – his wealth and Lazarus – the Lord. With wealth comes pride, power and possessions; none of which the wealthy want to give away. With poverty comes humility, dependence upon God and gratitude for every gift of life. What we have, know and do reveals our heart. One which is in tune with God will look different than the one caught up with self. One will be rewarded and the other one judged. You only have this life time to figure it out.
More to come,