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Attitudes That Triumph – week 4 – GEMS FROM JAMES

 

ILLUS: (about attitude – Ms. Sally and I)

 

INTRO:

  1. In this final episode of our series, Gems from James we cover the last two chapters – a lot of ground, to be sure – but we’re going to view this via the lens of attitude. None of this is a methodology, a mantra or a mindset that you try to create. Rather, it’s the outgrowth, an outflow of what God is already doing IN you. From JOY THAT PERSEVERES in week 1 to FAITH THAT WORKS in week 2, pas. Lou set us up for WISDOM THAT TRANSCENDS in week 3 and finally, today, ATTITUDES THAT TRIUMPH in week 4. 

  2. The last part of this book is vintage James – through it all, he brings a practical approach to being a Christian:

    1. In Chapter 1,  don’t just say you have joy, show it by setting an example when you go through trials

    2. In Chapter 2, don’t just say you have faith and are saved, show it through your everyday deeds 

    3. In Chapter 3, don’t just say you are wise and understanding, show it through the meekness with which you interact with others 

  3. Today, let’s look at three attitudes from the last two chapters of James – Attitudes That Triumph!

 

BODY:

 

  1. ATTITUDE PROBLEM – PRIDE – so how was their pride expressed?

 

  1. Their pride was expressed in their desire to get whatever they wanted. (4:1-4; NKJV) 

4 Where do 1wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure athat war in your members? 2 You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and 2war. 3Yet you do not have because you do not ask. 3 bYou ask and do not receive, cbecause you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures

 

Today’s world is all about me, myself and I. Look at some of the ways James shows how this self-focus plays out: 

  1. You have wars and fights among you - this is the extent they went to, to get what they wanted

  2. Everything you do is for pleasure – this is WHAT they wanted

  3. You lust and covet – this is HOW they wanted

 

Pride says, “I am the most important person in my life”

 

  1. Their pride was expressed in their desire to plan without God. (4:13-16; NKJV) – 

13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow 8we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; 14 whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? rIt is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. 15 Instead you ought to say, s“If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” 16 But now you boast in your arrogance. tAll such boasting is evil.

 

What their plans were, without regard to their utter lack of control over their next breath. The Gk. tense used is the future tense (a very confident assertion – “we will go, we will stay, we will buy, we will sell, we will profit”) rather than the subjunctive tense (a cautious assertion – “we might go, we might stay, we may buy, sell or perhaps make a profit”). Seneca the philosopher best associated with stoicism once said: “How foolish it is for a man to make plans for his life, when not even tomorrow is in his control”. If we act and plan as if we don’t depend on God, what we’re guilty of is arrogant boasting.

 

ILLUS: In Gk., the word for arrogant boasting is alozoneia which really refers to a wandering quack (fake doctor), who kept offering cures which actually were no cures and boasted of things he wasn’t able to do. 

 

Pride says, “I am in control of my life” – if YOU are in control of your life, you may have an issue with PRIDE.

 

  1. Their pride was expressed in their desire to rely on themselves. (5:1-3, 5; NKJV) 

Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you! 2 Your riches [a]are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. 3 Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have heaped up treasure in the last days. You have lived on the earth in pleasure and [c]luxury; you have [d]fattened your hearts [e]as in a day of slaughter.

 

Look at the three things James mentions in vs. 2&3 – riches (from their business ventures/crops/harvest) – garments (status symbols – flaunted – if you got it, flaunt it) – gold and silver (wealth). (APPLY)

 

Pride says, “I am self-sufficient” – if you are SELF-SUFFICIENT, you may have an issue with PRIDE.  

 

  1. WHAT IS THE ATTITUDE SOLUTION? THE ATTITUDE OF HUMILITY (4:7-10)

    1. Draw near to God and repent 

    2.   Submit to God by humbling yourself (OT language is used in vs. 9)  

 

  1. ATTITUDE WIN – DEVIL WILL FLEE (4:7) 

    Resist the devil (and he will flee from you). Remember, pride is the original sin – in the book of Ezekiel, it describes the first sin – the sin that occurred in Lucifer, who was cast out of heaven for his sin – Lucifer the angel became Satan the devil because of pride. This is why, when we humble ourselves and submit to God, we’re resisting pride, which means we are resisting the devil himself – of course, he will flee. PRIDE ALWAYS FLEES WHEN FACED WITH HUMILITY.

 

  1. ATTITUDE PROBLEM - IMPATIENCE – so how was their impatience expressed?

 

Did they have an attitude problem? Vs. 7 - For this reason, my brothers and sisters, be patient as you wait for the return of the Lord. So why were some impatient? Well, the proud and rich people in the church were acting all high and mighty, were not being honest in their business dealings, and living boastfully and showing off, and so the poor folk wanted to take matters into their own hands. Now James has already dealt with these rich (proud) folk. Now he turns to the folk on the opposite spectrum.

 

  1. Look at 4:11-12 (JB Phillips) – Never pull each other to pieces, my brothers. If you do you are judging your brother and setting yourself up in the place of God’s Law; you have become in fact a critic of the Law. Yet if you start to criticize the Law instead of obeying it you are setting yourself up as judge, and there is only one judge, the one who gave the Law, to whom belongs absolute power of life and death. How can you then be so silly as to imagine that you are your neighbor’s judge?

 

They felt God didn’t do anything against these rich and boastful folks who were fighting all kinds of wars. God wasn’t doing anything, so they turned activist. They started grumbling and complaining and rumor-mongering against the rich folks (you’ll see this in TWO places – both in 4:11 and 5:9). 

 

So, these disaffected people excused their poor behavior based on the poor behavior of others – because God didn’t judge those sinful people in the church, they became judge themselves and decided to live by their own rules. In the first part of the book James talked about external trials, like persecution and so on, and now James is focusing on internal trials, like these unjust situations they faced even inside the church.

 

  1. Look at 5:12 (JB Phillips) – It is of the highest importance, my brothers, that your speech should be free from oaths (whether they are “by” heaven or earth or anything else). Your yes should be a plain yes, and your no a plain no, and then you cannot go wrong in the matter. – because of their impatience, they were vacillating between “yes” and “no” – They wanted immediate answers. But they should have known, right? They were the Jewish Christians who knew the OT. They knew Abraham waited 25 years for the promise of Isaac, Noah obeyed for 120 years for the promise of rain, Moses was in the desert 40 years before God sent him back to begin the promise of liberation…. But in the end, the promise did come. 

 

Let’s bring this down to us…….. (APPLY). James says in vs. 12 that such folks are in danger of falling into judgment (the judgment here is one where a judge weighs whether your deeds and words match up – that’s why some other translations say hypocrisy). 

 

  1. WHAT IS THE ATTITUDE SOLUTION? THE ATTITUDE OF PATIENCE (or ENDURANCE)

    1. (5:7 ESV – “Be patient, therefore, UNTIL the coming of the Lord”) – don’t take short cuts, don’t try quick fixes…..

ILLUS: This week they caught the largest Burmese python ever…..

 

  1. Take the long view because the day of the Lord (5:7-11) is coming – the Lord is compassionate and merciful (5:11), and He is the Judge (vs. 9). HE will bring the reward. Gen. 18:25 says, “will not the judge of all earth, do right?” So, endure this delay. Don’t give up on your walk with the Lord because you’re having challenges within the body of Christ. Don’t let their behavior determine YOUR decision. 

 

  1. ATTITUDE WIN – THE PURPOSE INTENDED BY THE LORD (5:11) – (NKJV – the “end” determined by the Lord)  

James reminds his readers about Job….. how he endured all of that delay that really, God permitted. Job proved the devil wrong. God created us for worship. When we worship God, the purpose HE created us for, is fulfilled. Your delay, your challenges are MORE than just about yourself. They are about God’s own purpose!! James tells us that our patient endurance actually brings about GOD’S purpose. 

 

  1. ATTITUDE PROBLEM – APATHY – so what was so apathetic about these early Christians?

 

  1. They lived in difficult times but they didn’t live vibrant Christian lives. They were still dealing with their baggage. They were still living under the influence of pagans around them. They were not too keen or interested in what God was calling them to. They were discouraged. They had apathy. 

 

  1. Look at some of the ways they were lazy in their faith walk. 

    1. Rather than fix the problem with their fellow-believers, they grumbled and complained – 5:9 – (The Voice Translation) – don’t waste your breath complaining about one another. It’s a lot easier to complain, than to actually DO something about it. That’s lazy Christianity.

    2. They made hasty decisions – they were quick to declare their oaths – vs. 12 – they got defensive very quickly and tried to appeal to a higher power. That’s lazy Christianity!

    3. They wandered from their faith – vs. 20 – (The Voice Translation) - if someone you know loses his way and rebels against God, pursue him in love and bring him back to the truth. That’s lazy Christianity!

    4. They developed a disconnect between knowing and doing – vs. 17 – (The Voice Translation) - So if you know the right way to live and ignore it, it is sin—plain and simple. ILLUS YOU ONLY KNOW AS MUCH AS YOU DO. 

 

Is apathy a problem in churches today? Remember, throughout the book he rouses his readers with blunt questions – “What good is it, if you have faith and no works?” (ch 2), “Who is wise and understanding among you?” (ch 3), “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you?” (ch 4). Now as he approaches the end, he adds a softer touch. He asks them three questions, Is anyone among you suffering? Is anyone cheerful? 14 Is anyone among you sick? 

James proposes an answer to the attitude problem of apathy.

 

  1. WHAT IS THE ATTITUDE SOLUTION? THE ATTITUDE OF ZEAL (get involved; take a stake in your own spirituality).

    1. If you’re suffering….. don’t stay silent. Speak up. Speak up to GOD – PRAY!!!

    2. If you are cheerful,…. Don’t stay silent. Speak up. 

    3. If you’re sick…. don’t stay silent….. Get involved by getting others involved. 

    4. Vs. 19 – James again says, stay involved. Not just with yourself, but with others. (ESV – “if anyone among you wanders from the truth…..whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins”. 

 

Why is all that so critical? Because it gives you an…..

 

  1. ATTITUDE WIN – SAVED, RAISED, HEALED, PRODUCED, COVERED (5:15-20)

By showing the attitude of zeal, the lost one will be saved, the bed-ridden one will be raised, the sick one will be healed, the silent one will become a testimony, the sin of the wanderer will be covered. We can show an attitude of zeal. We can make a difference. 

 

CONCLUSION:

 

We all can overcome bad attitudes. James has just shown us how. For our persistent pride, let’s add an attitude of humility. For our gnawing impatience, let’s add an attitude of enduring patience. For our frequent apathy, let’s add an attitude of zeal. AMEN!