Words again…………

The Words That We Use

Language is important. It is one of the many things that separate us from the animal kingdom. We might share something like 99% of DNA with our ape friends but that 1% or so difference is what matters. It allows us to communicate complex ideas using a complex code called language. It even allows us to create many hundreds of these codes so that as you traverse the globe we call Earth, you can pick up on a cacophony of language. Being able to utilise words means that we can paint pictures in our imaginations that, if done right, can be more vivd and spectacular than even the best paintings. We can convey the experiences that we have had in our lives to others so that they can share them with us and if stimulated enough go out and get their own version of that experience.

Politicians use words and language to convey promises to us and convince us why we should vote or follow them. (Ahem). Words are powerful things, and I suspect we should take more care than we do in how we use them.

One aspect of words and the way we use them that I find interesting is their origins. It is why I have a Strong’s Hebrew and Greek concordance installed on my Bible reader App. I can go to the original word in a particular scripture and look up its original meaning or the root word from which the word used by the writer originated. It well worth the investment if you have any inclination towards in-depth Bible study and can help open up whole new meanings of Gods word to you.

I am also intrigued by the origin of words that we use in everyday life today. one example, merely to illustrate the point you understand is something like the word “bender” or more accurately its use in sentences such as “They went on a bender”. Now for the benefit of all you good clean living Christian people out there who may not be aware, such a phrase is often used to describe the experience of going out and drinking excessive amounts of alcoholic beverage. (How do I know this? Google is such a wonderful source of information if used correctly!) Ahem.

Anyway, the use of the word in a certain context gives it a totally different meaning to what one may find in the dictionary. (Although Chambers English Dictionary does have this definition in it as it’s second definition for the word Bender and identifies it as a slang term). What this shows however is that language is an ever-changing evolving beast!

So what? Well I have referred in other posts to the power of words and Saint John’s use of the term The Word in relation to Jesus, so I will not repeat that here. But I am intrigued with how we use certain words as believers without a second thought. The two main ones that I think of that we use in daily lives without a second thought are “lucky” & “fortunate”.

No big deal I hear you say? (Well I don’t actually hear you say, but I do have this image in my mind’s eye of you shrugging your shoulders in disappointment (Possibly)). What of it? Well I was wondering, why as believers in God and Jesus specifically we constantly fall back on the usage of these words in our daily lives. After all, luck and fortune have nothing to do with our situation at all.

Turning to our trusty dictionary once again it defines these words thus:

luck /luk/ noun

• Fortune

• Good fortune

• An object with which a family’s fortune is supposed to be bound up

ORIGIN: Prob LGer or Du luk; cf Ger Glück prosperity

[Chambers Dictionary (iOS) © Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd.]

And Fortune it defines Thus:

• Whatever comes by lot or chance

• Luck

• The arbitrary ordering of events

• The lot that falls to one in life

• A prediction of one’s future

• Success

• A great accumulation of wealth

• A large amount of money (informal)

• An heiress (obsolete)

• intransitive verb (obsolete)

• To befall

• transitive verb (obsolete)

• To determine the fortune of

• forˈtunate adjective

• Happening by good fortune

• Lucky

• Auspicious

• Felicitous

• forˈtunately adverb

• In a fortunate way, by good luck

• I’m glad to say or happy to report

[Chambers Dictionary (iOS) © Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd.]

But what of it? You may be asking yourself once again. Well the Bible teaches us that all good things proceed from God. And what do we know about God? That He is omniscient and omnipresent. The He “foreknows” everything. So for the believer chance, luck and good fortune has nothing to do with us. God is in control, anything good that befalls us He knows about it beforehand, anything bad that befalls us He knows about it beforehand, anything of an indifferent nature that befalls us, He knows about it beforehand.

What we have are God’s promises, such as

2 Corinthians 1:20

For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ. And so through him the ‘Amen’ is spoken by us to the glory of God.

2 Corinthians 9:8

And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

2 Peter 1:3

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.

Psalms 9:10

Those who know your name trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.

Psalms 37:25

I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.

Romans 5:17

For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!

Philippians 1:19

for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.

AND of course the famous Romans verses:

Romans 8:28-30

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

I could go on but I think this selection of verses from The Bible shows that we are in safe hands and do not have to rely on things such as luck, we are not lucky, neither are we fortunate, but we are blessed!

Its a small thing in many respects but in my everyday life I try not to use words such as lucky or fortunate, instead I try to use blessed.

Why?

Because in today’s world it is different. People don’t expect to be blessed, they expect to be lucky. They do the lottery in the hope they are lucky enough to guess the 6 numbers necessary to win the jackpot. They go to Bingo in the hope that they are fortunate enough to get a full house. They place a bet on the Horses or the dogs, hoping that the form of the animal and it’s past performance with their own judgement will make it lucky enough for them to win. People hope that they will be lucky enough not to be victim to crime, or be fortunate enough not to fall ill or catch some incurable disease, they hope that their lot in life will be a pleasant one, that any coincidences they experience will be happy ones, that they will not befall to any accidents that might hurt or injure them.

But we, those of us who are brothers and Sisters in Christ, we have so much more. Re-read those scriptures above if you need to. We have Gods provision, we have God’s promises, We have God’s blessing, we have God’s strength and we have God’s word to guide and teach us. How BLESSED are we?

My hope, my prayer is that in just this small way, if I use a term like “I am blessed” it will raise a question in someone’s mind. It will make their ear’s prick up in interest, it will drive them to ask more about being blessed and subsequently the faith that I have in our great God that provide’s for all my needs. A bit like the mighty Oak that grows from the tiny Acorn, we should look to these small ways that can and I pray, do make a difference.

Job 1v1

Today’s post is from the notes that I used when I was asked to speak at the Huddersfield Royal Infirmary in 2018.

Our church takes the service in the chapel at the HRI twice a year and it is my privilege at the moment to speak into this place at the times we do take it.

I often will rely on something that God has spoken to me through and this time we had been studying Job in our Saturday morning mens bible studies. Job is an Old Testament book that I find fascinating.

Many scholars consider it to be one of the oldest books written, pre-dating the Books of Moses and probably known by Abraham.

If this is in fact the case, it is interesting because it testifies to a deep knowledge of God within mankind well before the Law was given to Moses and supports ails contention in Romans Chapter 1 that mankind is without excuse because God has revealed Himself to us in creation and depending upon how we respond to that, will depend on how God will respond to us. It also helps in a deeper understanding of the great hall fo faith chapter in Hebrews chapter 11.

The book of Job is an epic poem and the last few verses where God speaks into Jobs situation are epic in themselves and offer a deep spiritual insight into the nature and Character of our creator God. These chapters where God speaks are made even more dramatic when one reads them after to toning a froing between Job and his supposed friends.

Anyway the reading is short, the notes are short but I hope that they help your interest in this most amazing of books . Ancient it certainly is. Relevant it certainly is. Thought provoking defiantly, challenging yes. A blessing simply put yes. Read enjoy and be blessed.

Job 1:1-5

Job

A Man Devoted to God

Job was a man who lived in Uz. He was honest inside and out, a man of his word, who was totally devoted to God and hated evil with a passion. He had seven sons and three daughters. He was also very wealthy—seven thousand head of sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred teams of oxen, five hundred donkeys, and a huge staff of servants—the most influential man in all the East!

His sons used to take turns hosting parties in their homes, always inviting their three sisters to join them in their merrymaking. When the parties were over, Job would get up early in the morning and sacrifice a burnt offering for each of his children, thinking, “Maybe one of them sinned by defying God inwardly.” Job made a habit of this sacrificial atonement, just in case they’d sinned.

This morning I want to concentrate on Verse 1:

The English Standard Version puts verse 1 like this:

Job 1:1

Job’s Character and Wealth

There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil.

One of the amazing things that I have found about the Bible is that there is so much we can glean about the Character of God, Man and God’s expectations of us. And oftentimes we can learn so much from just one verse. Job Chapter 1 Vs. 1 is I believe one such verse.

There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil.

Verse 1: There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job.

What does this tell us straight away?

The story took place in a geographic Location Uz, even though we may not be sure of the exact location of Uz today. God knew where Job was, God was looking out for Job.

The story is a personal one. It is not just about a man, but is about a man called Job

Thus, God’s dealings are personal – Why is this important? Because God wants to deal with each and every one of us on a personal level. You me, the person sitting next to you, the person in the next bed, everyone on this planet is important to God and He knows each of us by name.

The God of the Bible is a personal God.

Blameless, Upright, Feared God and Turned from Evil – What an amazing epitaph that would be!

What does each of these indicate about Jobs character?

BLAMELESS: Some versions use perfect, but blameless is a better translation of the word. It does not mean sinless, there has only ever been one sinless man and that Was Jesus Christ, and indeed it cannot mean that Job was sinless as he confesses himself at 13:26 the iniquities of his youth.

Fundamentally this speaks of authenticity before God. Whilst still someone who failed from time to time, he knew that his standing before a righteous God was right. He confessed his sins, his wrong doings his failures and maintained his relationship with his creator, even to the point of offering sacrifices on behalf of his children whom he feared might slight the name of God.

UPRIGHT: Speaks of his relationships with others. He is seen to be upright, straightforward, not doubleminded, honest, Genuine?

Job 31:13-23 is Job testimony to the effect of his dealing with other people go away and read it at your leisure.

DO you know anyone who is genuine? When you do come across such people you find that you can trust them, they are authentic, what you see is what you get. They are not hiding anything, they do not have an hidden agenda, they look out for others needs, oftentimes at the sacrifice of their own needs. This is what it is to be blameless before God.

The two greatest commandments are Love the Lord your God with All your heart and with all your mind and with all your soul, and Love your neighbour as yourself. A blameless person seeks to fulfil both those commandments above all others.

FEARED GOD: We don’t know how much Job knew about God, especially if we understand that these events occurred pre-Moses and the Law but there is a sense where that is un-important. What is important? If we don’t realize it yet you will if you continue to read the book of Job, that whoever Job was, whatever his ethnic origin, which is probably not Hebrew/Jewish, Job knew God! Is there a lesson here for us today that its not what we know about God that is vital but that we know Him?

As you read through Job, you will observe that Job believed God was Sovereign, Just and had the power to run the world the way God saw fit, marked by justice and fairness.

TURNED FROM EVIL: Jobs character is marked by daily repentance, habitual turning from evil in thought and deed and word. The sacrifices we read about that he made on behalf of his children all point to this. Not only did he watch out for evil in his own life and turn from it, he also petitioned God on behalf of those he loved.

Job is thus not perfect, but he is bracketed together with Noah and Daniel In Ezekiel 14:14 “Even if these three men, Noah, Daniel and Job were in a land, they would deliver but their own lives by their righteousness”

These men all lived prior to the coming of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, so what was the nature of their righteousness? Good works, observance of the Law? They probably did these thing in abundance but it was their faith that made them righteous.

If you do not have faith yet in Jesus Christ, you can turn to him now where you are in whatever situation you find yourself and ask Him to make Himself known to you

Solomon’s Wisdom

The Wisdom of Solomon.

Imagine the scene, the Queen of Sheba had heard of the the wisdom of this Hebrew king. I suspect it started with the odd comment here and there in her royal courts, her officials who would trade with travelling merchants might have picked up snippets of information, stories told and re-told about how this king could give answers to any dilemma put to him. I imagine the story of the two prostitutes arguing over the baby and whose the baby was, was rampant throughout trade routes between Israel and the rest of the then known world. But the queen, she would keep her own counsel for many a long period. Listening to the stories, the tales that were been told of this Solomon, reputed to be the wises man alive!

Now bear in mind back then there was no mass media, no newspaper, no telegraph, no radio, no TV, no telephone, no internet, no e-mail, no instant messenger. It would have taken time for the reputation of Solomon to grow and become so great that the queen of another kingdom could no longer bear the mystery of it all and decided to set of on a journey to meet this man of such fame and basically test him!

Imagine it, a foreign dignitary arriving with all the pomp and circumstance that could be mustered at the time. I’m sure that as Solomon stood in the windows of his recently completed palace he would have seen the dust cloud first, the sand of the desert volatile in the air as the queen and her entourage disturbed the dusty sand drawing inexorably closer to the great city of Jerusalem. He would have stood and watched as his courtiers prepared for the visiting queen, making sure that the palace was impeccable, they after all would not have wanted to let their king down.

The Queen, I am sure would have been impressed, after all the world had not seen such a magnificent temple dedicated to any god built like this before and Solomon’s palace would have been second only to the temple in its magnificence and grandeur. I’m sure whilst on the outside she would have kept her feelings hidden she must have felt a jolt of excitement that at least on face value the stories of Solomon’s wealth were not exaggerated. But she had come, bearing gifts, to test his wisdom. And test it she would!

Following her arrival she questioned him exhaustively until as the Bible records:

1 Kings 10:1-5 (ESVST)

Now when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the Lord, she came to test him with hard questions. She came to Jerusalem with a very great retinue, with camels bearing spices and very much gold and precious stones. And when she came to Solomon, she told him all that was on her mind. And Solomon answered all her questions; there was nothing hidden from the king that he could not explain to her. And when the queen of Sheba had seen all the wisdom of Solomon, the house that he had built, the food of his table, the seating of his officials, and the attendance of his servants, their clothing, his cupbearers, and his burnt offerings that he offered at the house of the Lord, there was no more breath in her.

Then she concludes:

1 Kings 10:6-7 (ESVST)

And she said to the king, “The report was true that I heard in my own land of your words and of your wisdom, but I did not believe the reports until I came and my own eyes had seen it. And behold, the half was not told me. Your wisdom and prosperity surpass the report that I heard.

Now those words are a study in themselves there is much to plunder them about seeing and believing and listening to the testimony of others, but that is not what I want to draw out in this post.

Rather I want to ask a question.

What was Solomon’s wisest act or decision?

Was it writing all those wonderful nuggets of wisdom in the proverbs?

Or maybe the writing of the greatest love poem ever written in Song of Songs?

Was it the recorded incident of the two prostitutes arguing over the baby? Solomon realised that there was no way of deciding which of the two was telling the truth from the way they were talking to him in seeking his counsel. So Solomon suggested something which on face value could be seen as an act of exasperation.

Picture it, you have two, presumably highly emotional women arguing over something as precious as a new born baby. Neither is seeing reason, one because she is desperate, she has lost her baby to the other woman and desperately wants her child back. The other, presumably because she was a scheming devious woman who, even in a highly charged emotional state of post child birth and being responsible for her own babies death, was going all out for making sure she came away with a child!

I can imagine Solomon, looking first to one, then the other and eventually throwing his hands up in the air and blurting out in a loud voice:

“Okay, okay, okay, just shut up the two of you, I know what I will do, fetch me my sword and I’ll cut the baby in half and you can both leave me in peace and quiet with your own half of the baby.”

If this had happened I suspect there would have been stunned silence. After all this was the king speaking. The implications of the argument would have laid heavily on the mind and heart of the true mother of the baby and unlike the woman who had stolen the baby she relented and said no, give the baby to the other woman.

But you know I don’t think this is how it played out. Why? Because if it had Solomon’s words would have been borne out of his exasperation in the situation not his faith in God. Instead what I prefer to believe is that Solomon knew he was in an impossible position and so he asked God to guide him. And God gave him the words to say. But more importantly he also gave him the wisdom to analyse the resultant reactions and to make the wise decision that the true mother of the baby would not wish any harm to come to her child, even if it meant losing that child.

But even in this, the story that is recorded in the Bible as an example of Solomon’s wisdom I do not think was Solomon’s wisest act or decision. I think we have to go back further in Solomon’s history way back to the beginning of his reign. Before he had even really started in earnest to rule the people of Israel, Solomon uttered these words to God:

1 Kings 3:9 (ESVST)

Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?”

This pleased God because despite his position of privilege Solomon asked for wisdom above all else. He did not think to feather his own nest or seek long life, he sought the wisdom to govern Gods people properly.

I think there is a principle here that we can all learn from. I think the same principle was uttered by Jesus in his words found in Matthew 6:33

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Put God first, others second and yourself last.

You see, I believe Solomon was putting God first because he knew he was being charged with ruling over Gods people and at this time in his life he really wanted to do it properly in accordance with Gods will. By default this put him in the position of putting others second, in Solomon’s case, the whole nation of Israel. And because he had not sought to ask God for riches, wealth or long life he was not thinking of himself or his own comforts.

I pray that through His grace, God can make me more like that.

Words; a follow-up

In an earlier post it seems that I may have hinted at doing another post which would expand upon a particular theme. The post was the one regarding the power and awesomeness of words, language and our ability to communicate. One of the readers email’d me thanking me for the post and saying they looked forward to the one I had hinted at in it.

Now I love feedback of any sort and I encourage you to feedback to me good, bad (maybe not so much of that eh?) or even indifferent comments, but in this instance I was a touch confused, (doesn’t take a lot I know). There I was, I had apparently hinted at doing something else and it had prompted someone to encourage me follow it up. Anyway I scoured the blog and found what I think this kind person was referring too. Buried in the bible study notes download from that blog was a reference to James Chapter 3. A challenging chapter if ever there was one!

To recap, the blog post emphasised the power and importance of language, words and speech. Maybe it is because I have relatively recently started this blog that words, language et al, are in the forefront of my mind. After all the blog would not be possible if I didn’t know English as a language (no rude remarks about my Black Country accent please! (I jest of course)), and if likewise you didn’t know English then our attempts at communicating like this would be made much more difficult.

It’s that aspect of Language that got me thinking about its importance and its relationship to God and voila you have my blog post about the subject. If you have not read it yet, go take a look it really is much more interesting than it sounds.

Anyway I took a look at James Chapter 3, because don’t you find it interesting that God in His infinite wisdom should decide that He was going to inspire the apostle James to pen those words?

I do.

Of all the subjects, in all the world, in all of history (that we as mankind have experienced) and in our wisdom that we might have decided are important enough to have a place in God’s written revelation of Himself to us, He chose the subject matter of our tongue! (That sentence is quite a mouthful and there was no pun intended there, I wrote it and had to go back and re-read it so you don’t stand much of a chance).

However, If it is important enough to God to put it in, then it must be important enough for us to take note. Here is the passage in question for your ease of reading:

James 3:1-12 (TNIV)

Taming the Tongue

Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers and sisters, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. We all stumble in many ways. Those who are never at fault in what they say are perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.

When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by human beings, but no one can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.

You know, when I read this again I had one of those wake-up moments. Have you ever had them? I think as Bible believing Christians (is there really any other sort?), I think we should be having those ‘wake-up’ moments on a regular basis.

What do I mean by that?

Well as alluded to in my previous post, the method of God’s chosen communication to us is through His Word! (I’m not precluding any other method of God speaking to us in this statement, it is just that God has revealed His perfect will to us in The Bible). I read parts of it quite regularly, not as regularly as I should by any means but in my Christian walk I must have read The Bible several times over. Sometimes as a deliberate effort “from start to finish”, and almost certainly through the innumerable studies I have undertaken myself and through sermons and seminar events I have attended. Yet it still thrills me when I see some new thing, or God highlights something to me. Oftentimes it is something that I have read probably hundreds of times before, then, one day Wham! ( no not the sickly pop duo from the 1980’s, I mean proper Wham!). Like a bolt out of the blue something new hits you and the only proper reaction is to thank God that He reveals these things.

Ironically I wrote that last paragraph yesterday (that would be Saturday) and in this morning’s service at Church, Pastor Michael was talking about a similar thing as the basis for his sermon. He likewise could not get past the “Luke 22:15 (TNIV)

And he said to them, ‘I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.” Verse and delivered an excellent and challenging sermon to us.

Anyway I digress, my “wake up” moment from this passage was the opening sentence. here it is:

“James 3:1 (TNIV)

Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers and sisters, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.”

Have you seen that? Those who presume to be teachers will be judged more strictly. Now James here is not talking about all those wonderful hard working people who teach in our schools and colleges, he is talking, obviously, about teachers of Gods word.

So why this particular warning? Well as I emphasised in my previous post words are powerful. At the risk of repeating myself, in only 11 “God said’s” our material world was created. The Heavens in all their vast array, the planets and our sun, the sky, the hills and mountains, valleys, seas, oceans, lakes, rivers. Vegetation; like trees, grass, flowers, bushes. Animals; like cats, dogs, lions, mighty whales, and of course God’s crowning glory; Mankind. All of it was made through 11 “God said’s”. That is amazing. Well I think it is, what about you?

I also have a theory regarding words combined with music. That the setting of words to music amplifies their force and power. It is why we sing praises to God, it is why the Heavens declare their praises to God in song. Music moves our emotions, that affects our souls and we can have a negative or positive reaction to music and the words that songs contain that can either help or hinder our worship of God. (I will perhaps explore that one in more detail at another time).

So how does that apply to those who presume to be teachers of God’s word? Well Jesus understood the power of speech. He understood that those who teach have a responsibility. See here;

Matthew 18:6 (ESVST)

but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.

And again:

Mark 7:6-8 (ESVST)

And he said to them, “ Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written,

“‘ This people honours me with their lips,

but their heart is far from me;

in vain do they worship me,

teaching as doctrines the commandments of men. ’

You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.”

And again:

Luke 12:1-3 (ESVST)

Chapter 12

In the meantime, when so many thousands of the people had gathered together that they were trampling one another, he began to say to his disciples first, “ Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.

And Paul in writing to the Romans says;

Romans 2:21-22 (ESVST)

you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples?

I appreciate that we can cause people to sin in many and varied ways, but chiefly we communicate intentions, desires, deceits through language. I think this is why James is so vehement about the tongue. Have you noticed, he recognises that we praise and worship God using our tongue, by speaking, by using words, and that is a good thing to do, but that still does not stop him from using phrases such as:

James 3:6 (ESVST)

And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.

James 3:8 (ESVST)

but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

Strong words indeed. The vehemence in James’ words should give us reason to pause, think, pray.

I exhort you to meditate on his words. Challenge yourself. Pray about what you say. What you say to other people, what you say in your heart, (think of), because even there you are using words and language to formulate ideas, and we all know that God sees even our hearts.

But to those of us who purport to teach have a special warning.

Why?

I am sure there are many reasons, including the “millstone” warning given by Jesus. But why does James single out teachers of Gods word for special mention? I believe the main reason relates to hypocrites. Let me explain.

In His earthly ministry Jesus talked a lot about the hypocrites of His day. It would be an understatement to say that He was not best pleased with them. They said one thing and did another. They told, led and exhorted others ‘to do this’, ‘to do that’ and then they themselves went and did exactly what they wanted to do or the opposite of what they had told other people to do. In simple terms God hates hypocrisy in all its forms. It is not honest, it is not truth, it is not good!

I don’t know about you, but I find this challenging.

Am I a hypocrite? Of course I am, after all only human. I sit here typing ‘lessons’ that I think we should listen too and how many times do I then not do the things in them that I am saying we all should do? I honestly do not know the answer to that one but I suspect that the number would be a lot higher than I would like to think. It is a challenge for me. It is a challenge for you. It should be a challenge for all of us all of the time.

Feel encouraged? I would be surprised if you are, because as I finish writing this I am feeling challenged, which is good. But I am also feeling a little despondent and I know where I am going with this, (it a bit like the stand-up comedian who can’t get to the end of his joke because he is laughing so much, his excuse is that he already knows the punch line!) So you might possibly be feeling worse than me at the moment?

Well, can we overcome this tendency towards hypocrisy? I believe we can and James gives us the answer too, and it is already given by the time we get to chapter 3. You see, James teaches us that we should evidence our faith by doing stuff. Good stuff. Helpful stuff. He says:

James 1:22 (ESVST)

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.

Challenging stuff. Do the things that the Bible, Gods word, Gods message, Gods communication to us, tells us to do. Why? Because if you don’t you are only deceiving yourself. Don’t get me wrong it is good to hear Gods word, it is good to listen to Gods word, it is good to read and meditate on Gods word. God knows I need to do more of that. But unless we act upon it we are no better than the hypocrites that Jesus described as white washed tombs!

But better than this, by doing Gods word we are demonstrating Him to a fallen and lost world. A world that is otherwise hurtling towards the very jaws of hell itself, one soul at a time. Let me leave you with another scripture that I believe underpins this, that takes any despondency we might have felt and elevates us into spiritual realms that cause us to move and take action and do things, here it is:

Romans 5:6-11 (ESVST)

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person — though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die — but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. (My emphasis).

God bless.