Humility begins when we identify ourselves simply as a Christ follower, a servant to Christ and nothing more. James begins his letter with a simple and humble salutation " This letter is from James, a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ." James 1:1
We live in a society that places superficial identity on us, such as our career, economical status, marital status- as a follower of Christ, we must place those identifications underneath us and simply choose to be identified in Christ.
As we grow in Christ, we begin to understand the true meaning of humility, as we remove stumbling blocks from our lives. James warns us in Chapter 1, verse 21: To get rid of all filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your souls, for it has the power to save your souls.
How do we humble ourselves?
1. We can ask God and the Holy Spirit to guide us and help us with humility.
2. By ridding ourselves from filth and evil desires.
3. We must not allow the desires of the word to become our God: such things as money, material and superficial identifications must be removed from our desires.
4. By submitting ourselves under the Lord-ship of God and Christ, and becoming rooted in the Word of God.
Testing of Your Faith
James doesn't say if trouble comes our way but when it does. James knows that we will have troubles, but if we endure, we can reap great benefits.We shouldn't pretend and act as if we are perfect Christians without problems, or hide our problems with with a happy face, but what James is teaching us is to consider it an opportunity for great joy. During our hardship, God gives us a potential to learn and grow, because the testing of our faith will help us build our character and maturity.
James tells us to look at the prophets that faced adversaries and suffering for the Lord, as an example to learn patience and faith.
As a believer, our faith will be continuously tested, but as we continually grow spiritually, we become stronger in our maturity and character.
Listening and Doing
James says, " But don't just listen to God's word. You must do what it says. otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves." James 1:22
As believers, our demonstration of our faith goes beyond the four corners of the church as we called to be doers of the word of God. Our life should be set-apart and different from the rest of the world. People around us should notice a difference in our actions, attitudes and behaviors. As a born again Christian, we turn from our past and sins and begin to walk in the Spirit according to the righteousness of Christ.
Faith without Good Deeds is Dead
James says, " What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don't show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? James 2:14
As a believer of Christ, we are called to be people of faith, just as Abraham was called a man of Faith, his actions made him righteous in the sight of God. Our faith should ultimately transform our conducts, and if we truly believe the word of God then it will exemplify in our actions. Our life should not remain the same, as we grow in Christ. Although our salvation came from the grace of Christ , but we've been commissioned to set an example by putting our faith in action.
Controlling the Tongue
James says, "Indeed, we all make mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way." James 3:2
"if you claim to be religious but don't control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless." James 1:26
Some of the examples of an untamed tongue is gossiping, bragging, lying, complaining, manipulating, false teachings, cursing and condemning. As we grow in our faith, the Holy Spirit will be our guide towards holiness as we are called to be. Our speech should be used to praise the Lord as well as encourage other believers.
James warns us in James 4:7-8, to humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.
The Bible tells us that God has promised us the crown of life (eternal life), if we live for Jesus by resisting our sinful nature and staying faithful even under pressure and temptation. Christians assume as they begin to live for Jesus, that temptation no longer has a hold of them, but that is far from the truth. Since temptation comes from evil desire, we must learn to take captive every thought, imagination, and desires by demanding it obeys Christ.
Just as James says, we should resist the devil by resisting temptations. The Bible teaches us to remove ourselves from situations, places or people that will lead us into temptation.
Slow to Anger and Avoid Jealousy
James says, "Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires." James 1:19-20
Jealousy, anger, and bitterness can be a deadly poison in a believer's life, rather than pretending and covering up our sinful actions, we should seek help from the Holy Spirit in dealing with these deep-seated insecurities. The word of God teaches us and warns us on avoiding anger. As believers we are going to experience anger but the word of God warns us not fall victim to the danger of anger and jealousy.
"Look here, you rich people: Weep and groan with anguish because of all the terrible troubles ahead of you. Your wealth is rotting away, and your fine clothes are moth-eaten rags. Your gold and silver are corroded. the very wealth you were counting on will eat away your flesh like fire. This corroded treasure you have hoarded will testify against you on the day of judgement. For listen! Hear the cries of the field workers whom you have cheated of their pay. The cries of those who harvest your fields have reached the ears of the Lord of Heaven's Armies.
You have spent your years on earth in luxury, satisfying your every desire. You have fattened yourselves for the day of slaughter. You have condemned and killed innocent people, who do no resist you." James 5:1-6
James proclaims the worthlessness of riches and not the worthlessness of the rich. Money is not evil but it is the love of money that causes destruction. The Bible warns us that the love of money is the root of all evil. Jesus warns us that we can not serve two masters , "money and God", because we will love one and despise the other. Since wealth ad status means nothing to God, believers should not hoard their treasures on earth but understand that heaven is our ultimate destination.
Warning against Judging Others
James warns us to not speak evil towards one another. Although as believers, we are called to encourage and righteously judge with love- correcting and reproof with the word of God, we should be careful to not speak evil towards one another. If we don't properly understand what righteous judgement is then we should seek godly wisdom through prayer. Perhaps your own views could be wrong, but through prayer, God will give clarity and healing towards a situation.
Warning against Boasting
James doesn't necessarily condemn planning ahead, but he warns us to not put our hopes in our future plans. Rather, we should place our trust in the Lord and submit into His ultimate plan for our lives.
We live in a world that has conditioned us to plan ahead, and when our plans don't turn our perfectly, we can easily become discourages and disappointed. Rather than making a single minded plan, James advise we should keep the Lord in our plans by seeking God for our future as he permits us. When we boast about preconceived plans, we take matters into our hands to make it possible. But by placing our faith in the hands of the Lord, we give God the ultimate glory by paving out future. James is simply teaching us that tomorrow is not promised, and instead of bragging we should take God for letting us see today.
I will continue the summary of this study in Part 2.
May God bless you'all.