There is just too much “doing” in this chapter for this sermon to be nothing more than pie-in-the-sky idealism.
- The word “do” (or “don’t,” “does,” “doesn’t,” “didn’t”) occurs 15 times in this one chapter.
- Jesus encourages his audience to “ask,” “seek,” and “knock” (7:7), all very active verbs.
- Jesus summarizes all that the Law and Prophets were teaching using the very active Golden Rule: “So whatever you want people to do to you, do just that to them” (7:12).
- The calling card of genuine Christians is “the fruit they bear” or “produce” (7:16-19; “produce” is used 5 times in 3 verses).
Clearly, the Kingdom will come into existence by doing. Granted, the Kingdom is not of our doing, as if it is the work of our hands. But we are disregarding the activity in Matthew 7 if we think God will bring His Kingdom while we sit back passively waiting.
"The Wise and Foolish Builders" by Danny Halbohm
Don’t get me wrong. I am no legalist who glories in my good works. People who sit in my classes hopefully will tell you that is not the focus on my teaching. People who know me the best will also tell you I don’t have enough good works to glory in! We don’t “do” in order to get; we “do” because of what we’ve got. But the world needs more than a Church that offers cheap grace that neither changes anything within us nor demands anything from us. This world needs wise builders who hear and do. The skeptical around us need to investigate the vines of our lives and find abundant fruit. They need people who have actually found the gate that leads through the “tight squeeze” (7:14) to the narrow path and have turned around to show others the way.
This is the sort of thing Jesus meant when he said “Follow me!” (4:19)
A rhetorical question (if you wish): who in your life needs you to “do” this Sermon?
Tags: action, active, Bible, BIble reading, cheap grace, do, doing, good works, grace, jesus, kingdom, kingdom of God, kingdom of heaven, legalism, matthew, obedience, Sermon not he Mount, works
I am intrigued how James ends this letter that has focused so much on what we are to do in our faith.
So be patient, my brothers and sisters, for the appearing of the Lord. . . . the appearing of the Lord is near at hand. (5:7-8)
Three more times in four verses James uses the words “patient” or “patience.”
All letter long James has focused on our actions — all the while avoiding the legalism and self-reliance of the Judaizers — and at the end he closes by drawing the readers’ attention back to Jesus. And not just Jesus, but the return of Jesus to this world to set it right with judgment and re-creation.
Waiting for Jesus
Lest we turn the book of James into justification for salvation by works, he reminds us that the most important work of all comes solely from God, not us. All we can do is be patient as we wait for God through Christ to restore this world to the just, loving, and faithful kingdom it was meant to be. As we do faith and do love and do wisdom, James reminds us it is God’s role to do the redemption of this world and our very souls.
James has many, diverse messages, but did one overall point really hit home with you this week?
Tags: Bible, doing, God, James, jesus, judgment, justification, patience, reading, redemption, salvation, Second Coming, works
When we think of wisdom, we usually think of the mind. We might see wisdom as more practical and everyday than knowledge. I once was taught this simple definition: wisdom is knowledge applied. Still, in this way of thinking wisdom is a matter of the mind.
I am struck by how earthy and everyday James’ description of wisdom is in today’s passage:
Who is wise and discerning among you? Such a person should, by their upright behavior, display their works in the humility of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and contention in your hearts, don’t boast and tell lies against the truth. This isn’t the wisdom that comes from above. . . . The wisdom that comes from above is first holy, then, peaceful, gentle, compliant, filled with mercy and good fruits, unbiased, sincere. (3:13-15a, 17)
Chock full of action words, James describes wisdom in 3:13-18 as much as a matter of the hands as a matter of the mind. Much like faith and love in chapter 2, wisdom is what one does and does not do. Wisdom is seen and identifiable. As practical as it can be, wisdom is how we treat others. It is behavioral.
What struck you from today’s chapter?
Tags: actions, behavior, Bible, doing, hands, James, knowledge, mind, reading, wisdom, wise