Our hope is that your second time reading through the Letter of James has revealed new truths, and that you have been able to experience his words in different ways than you did the first time through.
We want to share this month’s reactions from James… there is so much value in learning from the perspectives of others!
Asher & Haley Tuggle: James 1:1 – 2:26
James has been a fantastic series for us so far! Every month we set aside a few hours to sit down and connect with each other about spiritual topics. We often discuss what God is teaching us and so we used James 1 and 2 as our topic for this month. Here are a few thoughts from our conversation:
In James 1:27, James is saying that valuable religion has two components: going out and helping others and personal spiritual formation.
Next, Haley asked how the example in 2:1-9 could translate to the modern day since we aren’t often in situations where rich and poor people walk into our gatherings. Through our discussion, we realized that these verses apply well to school, youth group, racism, and the LGBTQ community. We are constantly in situations where we could judge people based on how they look.
The law of liberty described in James 2:12 is a simple (though not easy) law, as opposed to the oppressive law the Jews had created or even the original law that God gave the Jews. The law of liberty could also mean the law of grace, as we are freed from sin by grace. Either way, we are no longer slaves to either sin or legalism.
Lastly, we discussed why James would compare body and spirit to faith and works in 2:26. Asher said that the spirit is the animating force of a person, and works are the animating force of faith.
Candy Kanuchok: James 3:1-18
In reading James 3:1-18, many others have commented on the awful devastation the tongue can cause due to anger and lies, criticism and thoughtlessness. However, there is a much less obvious but much more prevalent harm the tongue can cause that is rarely mentioned.
Many years ago, a wise lady shared something profound with me and it has stuck with me ever since. She said, “If I can hurt even one person by my teasing, it is too much of a price to pay; I will gladly give up that right to do so.”
How much damage we can do to another of God’s children, and then cover it up with, “Just kidding!” She never teased anyone, and I made that decision as well. John and I did not allow teasing in our home and my kids were spared a lot of pain and scars with that decision.
Only God can give the power to tame our tongue, but the decision to let Him do so rests with us. I am grateful that He gave me those wise words years ago and opened my eyes to see the potential for harm if I do not allow Him to control my tongue.
Jerry Westling: James 4:1-17
Humility is something that most of us need to work on every day.
But we can’t do it on our own strength – no matter how hard we try. We need the Lord and the Holy Spirit to help us recognize that our human nature is not to see things in others eyes or perspective, so we easily judge others without a full knowledge of their circumstances.
It is way too easy for me to criticize others. I simply can’t assume I know the motives of others.
If James (the half brother of Jesus) was the author of this book; then he knew well how he misjudged Jesus until he came to the knowledge and acceptance that Jesus was indeed the Son of God!
Taryn Glynn: James 5:1-20
Overall, I feel like James is talking to us about where we search for security in our lives.
We often look to secure ourselves with worldly things like money or knowledge or comparison with our peers, but ultimately all of these will leave us wanting because we can only secure our lives and our meaning in and through God.
It was challenging to read the first section (5: 1-6) because I know I am guilty of trying to secure myself in this way. I ask God when I am in “need” of something, but often prefer to provide for my own security and feel I can fulfill my needs myself.
I was drawn similarly to James 5:13-15 because it reminds us that every season of our lives provides an opportunity to call out to God.
Whether things are good or bad, easy or hard, secure or in flux (what a call-out to this chaotic moment!), there are reasons to reach out to God and remind ourselves that He is present in what we’re experiencing and will ultimately guide us through.
We’ve loved reading alongside you and hearing your perspectives on the Letter of James.
We invite you to join us for the rest of our sermon series in James, and to read along with us for a third time through the month of November.