October 27, 2011

Friday after the Eighteenth Sunday after Trinity

Lectionary

Morning - Ps. 51, 1 Kings 19:9-21, James 3
Evening - Ps. 85, 86, Job 24:1-20, Mt. 15:21

Commentary
James 3

James returns to the subject of bridling the tongue. Why does he spend so much time on this subject? Because the essence of a person is expressed in his words. Remember that James is writing about the life of those who have truly embraced Christ as the Master and Saviour. He is writing about what Paul called being sanctified and transformed into new people. He is writing about living a faithful life (see Jas. 2:14-26 and accompanying notes for Thursday after the Eighteenth Sunday after Trinity). The tongue (mouth, words) of a person who is becoming more Godly will express the spirit of Godliness. His mouth is a fountain of sweet water (3:12). His conversation shows wisdom (3:13) and meekness. "Conversation" as used in 3:13 refers to our whole way and pattern of life, not just our words. The Christian's words express his way and pattern of living for Christ, while the unGodly person's express his way and pattern of living in wickedness. In short, our words express our character.

There is also a sense in which our words, and thoughts, form and shape our character. "For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he" (Prov. 23:7). Therefore, if we make an effort to control our words, we are also making an effort to control, and, therefore, change, our character. If, instead of cursing, we bless with our words, we also form a blessing character. We can influence the way we live, and we can develop our character. If we are not making a good faith effort to do so, we are simply allowing the bitterness, envying, and strife of sin to rule us, and if we are allowing sin to rule us, and, at the same time, calling ourselves Christians, we are lying against the truth (3:14). This is one reason why daily Scripture reading is so important. By spending time in the Bible we are attempting to let its words shape our thoughts and characters. We are not simply trying to gain knowledge about the Bible, though such knowledge is very important. We are certainly not merely doing a religious duty, nor are we simply "spending time with God." We are letting the Bible change, and renew our minds. We are letting it shape our values and goals and life-views. We are seeking to become more like Christ in our minds, for that will cause us to be more like Him in our actions and our being. It is to bring our minds into contact with the wisdom that is from above which produces in us peace, gentleness, mercy, and the fruit of righteousness (3:18).