James 4: 1-17
Thursday, 24 June 2021
“If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them” -James 4:17
Many of the New Testament epistles especially that of Apostle Paul teach us rightly the futility of works in the process of salvation. After those epistles, Apostle James in his epistle – called the “Proverbs” of the New Testament by some of the Bible scholars - brings to us the seemingly contrasting revelation of the importance of works based on faith in the life of a believer.
When one comes to Christ, all sin, despite the intensity or the quantity - however serious it may be, will be forgiven by our compassionate Lord. As it is said in the book of Isaiah "Come now, let us settle the matter," says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” (Isaiah 1:18). This is the grace of our Lord and there is no doubt that salvation is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Once saved, one has to live submitted to the Lord, yielding to His Spirit to live pleasing to Him-his good life is an outcome of his salvation. Otherwise the world with its pressures and pleasures can choke the believer which results in the several issues James addresses in this epistle.
In today’s scripture James points out some of the situations faced by believers which are true even today – like, fights and quarrels due to selfish desires, love for this evil world and hence hatred towards God, evil-doing, deceit in hearts, false in mind, saying evil against one another, judging others, glorying in the pride and not living or doing according to the Lord’s will. The fact that it was written to the first century believers, may be surprising to us, but in our generation as we know things are much worse even among the so-called believers. Those affected by all these sinful habits or practices may suffer since the devil can take advantage of such situations in their life.
But the Apostle exhorts us what must be done to break free of the devil’s hold: Submit yourselves to God; Resist the devil; Come near to God; Wash our hands of the sins, purify our hearts and Humble ourselves before the Lord. And then the Lord will do His part, that is, lift us up! In the final verse James says: “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.” This is the sin of neglect—of doing the right things that the believer knows he/she must do! James reminds the believers to put into practice what they knew was right.
True Christians have the obligation to do good when it is in their ability to do it—irrespective of the situations or difficulties they face. For them it is sin if they do not do the good they are aware of. So when we commit ourselves to Christ, we are committed to doing good, even if it is tough. There are several means of this good we can do to others – instructing others into the Lord’s way; comforting those in sorrow, raising up the bowed down, delivering the wronged and the oppressed (if in your power), providing for the wants of the needy , etc…if a man does not do this when he has the means, he sins against himself, against humanity, and against his Maker; but if he does it cheerfully with his given resources, his life is pleasing to the Lord. John Wesley has said: “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.”
Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, forgive us our shortcomings and help us to humble ourselves before You. Help us to know the good we ought to do and give us the grace to do it. Amen.