James, a fall bible study
13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.
17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18 Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.
Imagine if we drove our cars with wisdom. Accidents would dramatically decrease in frequency. I suppose I feel the pain of rude driving more than your average person because my car does not accelerate at a standard pace–so if you are not being a paragon of virtue, your vehicle might run my car into the ditch. I could complain about Sacramento drivers and how we do not let people merge onto the freeway and always zoom ahead, fending for ourselves without consideration for the lives of people around us, but what good does complaining do? Following James’s teaching regarding the power of words, I think we can direct our driving and underlying character through positive illustrations.
So, let me tell you about the time I was about to pull out of a parking lot in Oregon, and I needed to make a left-hand turn: The oncoming car had the right of way, but instead the driver braked and waved to me, insisting that I make the left-hand turn while she waited for me to go. The drivers on the North Shore of Boston tended to be considerate like that, too. Then last week, right in Sacramento, I was merging onto the highway, and a driver actually braked and merged left to give me room. And then one time, I was in the fast lane, but I moved into the right-hand lane to let the tailgater behind me pass. Oh, here is another example: Tonight I was a pedestrian, needing to cross a street that had no crosswalk, and an oncoming car stopped for me before I stepped onto the street to let me get to the other side. So considerate!
There are a million of other arenas to become wise. But what if we started being truly wise in our driving, and the kindness and considerateness began a revolution of love. When Jesus was describing the end of the world, he said, “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold” (Matt. 24:12). We could give up and say the end of the world is coming, and the evil of ourselves and our society cannot be stopped. But I don’t think that was the point of what Jesus was saying. He was prophesying what would happen near the end; however, we do not know if Jesus will return tonight or in another 5000 years. We can see a principle though of being influenced by our environment. What if we changed the tide of our culture? What if by our driving habits, we began a revolution of kindness and love and heavenly wisdom? And then you might say, “Well, people don’t need to become moral, they just need Jesus.” True, it could lead to our society “having a form of godliness, yet denying its power” (2 Tim. 3:5), but it could also lead to increased openness to Christianity. In the early church, the first Gentiles to receive the gospel were usually the “God-fearers.” And it would certainly help me enjoy my commute.
This series is inspired (but not sponsored) by FBC (First Baptist Church of Davis) and their fall focus running from October 4, 2015 through November 28, 2015. When I first heard FBC was doing this series, the lectionary reading and sermon that day at my own church, Christ the Redeemer Anglican Church, was from the book of James, and it really spoke to me; James is also the first bible study I completed on my own: I was fourteen, and I wrote with colored markers in a spiral notebook each morning before school, using an observation-reflection-action method similar to the one outlined in FBC’s bible-study guide. I am looking forward to spending more time meditating on this challenging book of the New Testament. I will be using the bible study guide provided by FBC with the accompanying scripture throughout this series; however, my methodology might hop around from anecdotal to more analytical word study. My goal is to do this study daily, or at least a few times a week! A big thanks to FBC for their theme, chosen scriptures, and structure of this study.
Monday – James 3:1-12
Tuesday – James 3:13-18