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God is Setting All Things Right. So I am Blogging Through the Bible in a Year.

Friday, November 22, 2013

November 22 - James: God wants His Chosen People to Set Things Right

Today’s Reading: James

The Message

English Standard Version


James could be considered the Proverbs of the New Testament. I will use this opportunity to give general comments and let you look at the specifics. Hopefully by now you are able to see how this book fits the Gospel: God is setting all things right!

Thought to Guide Your Reading

James wants everyone to set things right instead of focusing on "faith".

Summary in 100 Words or Less

James writes:
Rejoice when tested.
Pray when confused.
Prosperity is fleeting.
Lust becomes sin leading to death.
Good things only come from God.
Real religion is taking care of the helpless.
God's Kingdom embraces down-and-out people.
There are no "minor" laws. Obey them all.
Act on your faith. A good relationship with God requires faith and action.
Be careful how you use your mouth. Actions speak louder than words.
Call on God—He wants to help, if we submit to Him.
Rich people—set things right!
Confess your sins to each other—prayer is powerful!
Help wanderers return to God.

How Today’s Reading Contributes to the Gospel: God is Setting All Things Right

God loves to help.

One of the major themes of James' letter is to pray. God wants to help His Chosen People, and God knows how to give proper gifts! We should pray because God listens to us. We should pray because God wants to help us.

Faith needs action.

James wants to make sure this is clear—faith without setting things right is useless.
Today we struggle with incorporating the two. We think it is a balancing act—not too much faith but not too much works, either. How we balance the two has come out with both extremes—faith alone and obedience alone. In addition, we want to make this question about salvation. Jesus told the Apostles don't worry who will be saved or not. We should focus on setting things right. Don't balance faith and works. Trust in God and act on that trust! The two are not in competition with the other. One informs the other which confirms the first.

True religion is helping those who cannot help themselves.

If this placement is correct, James is saying something to Jews which would be somewhat insulting. They wanted the right religion, the right actions, and the right community. God repeatedly told Israel that they substituted sacrifices for setting things right and He was not pleased. James, therefore, writes how actions not related to "religious-y" things is what pleases God. True religion is not about worship, sacraments, buildings, or liturgy. True religion is about acts that set things right, especially for those who cannot defend themselves.

Riches should not add to a person's rank.

James has this idea throughout. The church thought that rich people should receive more-centered seating so they would add to the congregation's status. James reminds them that money does not elevate their ability to set things right—in fact, it often hinders it! Do not base judgments around a person's physical wealth or stature. Base judgments around a person's willingness to set things right as a lighthouse for God.

The tongue can either deliver praises or curses.

Although the tongue cannot be tamed, it can be used for praising God, other Chosen People, and non-Chosen People or for tearing them down, but not both.

What else did you see in James?


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