So yesterday I was working on memorizing the part in Jms 3 where it talks about the brutality of the tongue: “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father and with it we curse men made in God’s likeness…my brothers, this should not be.”
In recent months I’ve had some anger towards someone in my life and I have gone to the person to try to work it out. It turned out terrible with them cutting me out of their life. So much for reconciliation. I have been hurt and angry. Additionally this person has been quite negligent in their duties and there are many who are upset. The anger boils over in others and so what did I do yesterday? I joined the conversation. This Scripture came to my mind as it was my one to memorize for the day but honestly, I just rebelled. I felt justified as I had gone to talk to this person. I felt it was Ok because I was ‘just venting some frustration.’
But then I logged onto this blog and saw the last title, “If I memorize everything but have not obedience…” The reality was that I was slandering this person and it was willful rebellion to God’s Word. I came home and repented, asking God to help me to forgive and rid me of this anger. I need his help, especially as I willfully disobeyed. I knew what I was doing and I did it anyway. God have mercy.
Then this morning since I didn’t review all the Scriptures I had previously memorized last night (daily review is in the plan), I did it this morning going back through James 1. I’ve been frustrated with this chapter and not-liking it honestly. It has seemed so random logically: Persevere under trails, down with the rich people, persevere again, don’t blame God for your lust, God gives good gifts, control your anger, be doers of the Word, take care of orphans and widows. Where’s the thread of thought-out logic in that? But then with the help of a bout of anger yesterday superimposed on this text, I think I began to see James’ logic.
Starting from the latter half first, James says to be careful of getting angry and get rid of “all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent.” When I open the door to anger, moral filth and evil are very prevalant as my heart fills up with malice, slander, gossip, hatred, etc… Then the next paragraph is about not just hearing the Word but being doers. It kind of seems like a good truth but I’ve always heard it separate from the verses above and below. But if we connect it to the first paragraph of not being angry, James is saying to be obediet to do what is right in situations that may anger you, not just knowing the Word but actually doing what is right. And then the chapter ends with, what again I’ve sepated from the context, “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight reign on his tongue, his religion is worthless.” How much more true is this than when we’re angry? When we’re ticked, we grumble and slander. This is not ‘keeping a tight reign on the tongue.’ I think this whole latter half has a lot to say about anger and are not just independent truths from each other.
Then as I was reviewing the first half of the chapter, that was beginning to make more sense as well. Clearly the people James is writing to are having a problem with the rich folks. This has disturbed me memorizing this because while I am clearly not even close to rich in the eyes of the average American, I have travelled the world and I know that I am terribly rich. I have food and many changes of clothes and that qualifies in much of the world as exorbitantly wealthy. So these anti-rich people texts in James have been hard as they talk about me. But the reality is that the rich people James is talking about are 1) exploiting them, 2) dragging them into court, 3) slandering Jesus, and 4) not paying wages so they themselves can live in extravagance.
So James opens up with consider it joy my brothers when you face trials because your perseverance develops. And if you need wisdom, seek God. Then he talks about the rich fading away and then back to perseverance. What I’ve come to understand is that the trials they were facing we’re indeed from the rich. And how much more could you need wisdom than when your rich authorities are taking advantage of you? How much more perseverance do you need when you feel you’re in a helpless situation? I’ve finally begun to see the thread here.
Ok, so enough for now. It’s finally starting to come together. Now if I can just hasten obedience…