Genuine Wisdom

“[The tongue] is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison,” (James 3:9).

A hotheaded woman told John Wesley, “My talent is to speak my mind.”

Wesley replied, “Woman, God wouldn’t care a bit if you buried that talent.”

Our tongue reveals a lot about us: what we think, how we spend our time, and where we live.  James deals with the tongue in his chapter on wisdom.  Why wisdom?  Proverbs 12:18 says that “the tongue of the wise brings healing,” and in 18:21 that “death and life are in the power of the tongue.”  Words have the power to heal or destroy.

The tongue guides life (verses 2-3).  A small piece of metal in a horse’s mouth can guide and make a horse turn.  A farmer once said, “Horse sense is seldom hitched to a waggin’ tongue.”  A small piece of wood or metal can turn a massive ship around.  And our little tongue can change a person’s life.

The tongue harms life (verses 5-8).  The tongue is like a tiny spark that can destroy a whole forest in flames.  The tongue can rip a person to shreds, as surely as a wild animal.  A tongue lashing can poison a person’s whole life.  A sharp tongue is no indication of a keen mind.

The tongue blesses life (verses 11-12).  Words can refresh a person like a fountain spring on a hot day.  The tongue can give encouragement and strength, like the sweetest fruit from a tree.

Did you ever notice that it takes a child two years to learn to talk, yet it takes a man his whole life to learn how to keep his mouth shut?

A wise person’s words are not laced with profanity.  Rather, they are laced with purity, peace, gentleness, mercy, friendship, and integrity (verse 17).  What do your words reveal about you?

Genuine Hospitality

“If ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin,” (James 2:9).

The Book of James is about genuineness in the Christian life.  Chapter two deals with hospitality in the church.  The ushers kowtowed to the “needs” of the rich and powerful.  

They could not see beyond the superficial, “the goodly apparel.”  A person may wear the latest fashion, yet his soul may be clothed in filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6).  An evangelist illustrated this point.  He said, “I look pretty good,” as he showed his new suit.  Then he took off his shoes to reveal that his socks had holes.  He removed his coat and revealed that the back of his shirt was torn and ripped.  From appearance, he looked good, but a closer inspection revealed that his rich appearance was riddled with holes and tears.  It is more important to be clothed with spiritual apparel: the robe of righteousness, the garment of praise, the clothes of humility, the whole armor of God.

The ushers also could not see beyond the material, “the gold ring.”  A person may be rich in material possessions, but poor and pitiable in spiritual treasures.

The ushers also could not see beyond the temporal, “sit in a good place.”  A person may have all the right connections today, and be indicted for fraud tomorrow.

Let’s examine our own judgments about people.  How quick are we to size someone up based on their appearance or speech?  I was born in the South and my accent is thick.  My resume often rises to the top for a job interview until they call me on the phone. When they hear my southern accent, they assume that I am dumb, slow, lazy, and not intelligent.

But thanks be to God.  He does not look on the outward appearance or hear the southern drawls.  He looks at the heart, and He wants us to look deeper into the souls of people.

Genuine Religion | Dr Alan Holden

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“Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world,” (James 1:27).

The Book of James deals with genuineness in the Christian life.  In his summary of chapter one, James says that genuine religion is demonstrated by godly conduct: quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to wrath (verse 19). Genuineness is a tough standard to achieve in today’s world. But it is a discipline we need to develop.

First, genuine Christianity is quick to listen.  We all know people who engage their mouth before they engage their brain.  This only makes the devil happy and makes us look ridiculous.  Whatever happened to the Christian grace of courtesy?  Everyone is yelling at each other, but no one is listening.  Remember the adage: “It’s better to be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.”

Second, genuine Christianity is slow to speak.  That doesn’t mean we never talk or respond to criticism.  It means that we give an answer seasoned with both grace and intellect, not emotion.  Emotion demonstrates our insecurity in our position.

Third, genuine Christianity is slow to wrath.  Notice what James says, “The wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God,” (verse 20). Remember that the next time you fly off the handle, no matter how much we declared that we’re expressing righteous indignation.

How genuine and secure is your Christianity?

Genuine Faith | James 2:18

“Shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works,” (James 2:18).

The Book of James teaches that one’s actions and lifestyle reveal genuine faith.

Many often accuse fundamental Christians of being so heavenly-minded that they are no earthly good.  Sadly, many times we have earned that criticism justly.

Faith is not just a statement of doctrines that we believe.  Even the devil believes the same things we do about God (see verse 19)!  Faith is not only a systematic theology.  Instead, faith that is genuine is a lifestyle.

Genuine faith changes or tempers our actions.  Abraham heard God and obeyed God’s directions.  Even though he did not understand or have all the information or explanations he wanted, Abraham acted on what God said.  That earned him the title, “Friend of God.”  Rahab was an alien from God and a prostitute. Yet her belief that God was able to conquer the land changed her life.  So she hid the Israeli spies, protected them, and made provisions for them. However, she believed that God would save her from the day of destruction.  She too was a “Friend of God.”

Our actions or lack of action betray our beliefs.  What do your actions say about your faith in God? Do they reflect Christ in you or the “old sinful man”? Are you a “Friend of God,” or just an acquaintance of God?

Remember, faith without works is like a car without gas.  It may be pretty and shiny, but it won’t go anywhere.