Day 342 – Thru the Bible
Today we complete James. Nice job!
James 4 – If we live by God’s grace, we draw near to God and we “cleanse [our] hands . . . and purify [our] hearts.” That means we change both deeds and thoughts. Moreover, we “mourn and weep” over sin. We rightly say that God humbles us, but James commands us to humble ourselves. Then God will exalt us.
This principle lies at the heart of the gospel itself. When we humble ourselves, lay down our moral pride and achievements, and cast ourselves on Jesus in faith, God exalts us (Luke 18:14). We become His children, accepted and reconciled to the Father.
James says this gospel-driven humility will be manifest in us as we turn from our prideful sins. First, heeding James’s question, “Who are you to judge your neighbor?” we will leave judgment to the Judge—the Judge who can also save. Second, we will stop making grandiose plans. We will confess that God is sovereign, that we by comparison are like a mist, that all achievement depends on God’s will and favor. Third, in Chapter 5 we see, those who are rich will stop oppressing the poor (5:1–6).
How do you seek to turn from the sin in your life?
James 5 – James has been addressing “brothers”, but in these verses he warns “you rich” that judgment is coming, for they have oppressed their laborers and have “fattened” themselves in “a day of slaughter.” The counterintuitive reversal of this passage, here applied to money, picks up a whole-Bible theme. From to Revelation we see God inverting the world’s natural standards of significance and strength.
The supreme instance of this is the gospel itself, in which self-divesting contrition rather than self-resourced accomplishment brings divine favor and power flooding into one’s life. This can be true ultimately only because Jesus, the one truly strong and significant human who ever lived, allowed Himself to be made weak and pitiable on behalf of pitiable sinners.
For now, Believers must be patient through suffering and trial, “for the coming of the Lord” is near. The Judge will soon deal with the impenitent, but we long for that day, since God is “compassionate and merciful.” This great grace of an ultimate vindicating rescue from our difficulties keeps us from grumbling, judgmentalism, and giving in to evil.
James exhorts us to praise the Lord for every blessing and petition Him in every sorrow. In serious illness, we confess our sins and call the elders. He promises that, “the prayer of faith will save” the sick “and the Lord will raise him up” (probably an intentional double meaning, using resurrection language in reference to healing). That may happen in this life or in the next.
James teaches us to doubt our righteousness, but the Lord grants and imputes righteousness by faith. So James cites Elijah, a prophet who prayed effectively even though he had “a nature like ours,” stumbling as we do. James concludes pastorally, with a call to restore “anyone” who “wanders from the truth.” From a human perspective, we “save” such a person’s “soul from death,” but from God’s perspective we participate in the work of Jesus, who covers sin and defeats it.
How does this chapter point you to Jesus?
What other thoughts or questions does today’s reading bring up?
Some of these notes are from the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible study notes. We highly recommend this study Bible.
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