“The grace of God…teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in the present age.” Some Christians excuse their sin and lack of self-control by appealing to a future perfecting when we get to heaven. God’s word is clear here that self-controlled living begins here and now as we develop and practice it. What do I need to learn to say “No” to as a follower of Jesus? Forgive our “yeses” to worldly passions and teach us through Your grace to say, “No” instead. Amen.
“Without wood a fire goes out; without a gossip a quarrel dies down.” I do not think I have ever seen this verse carved in a wood plaque or declared as someone’s favorite verse. How would the world be different if Christians and Christian leaders exercised self-control over their mouths? Have I been gossiping recently? Who have I hurt? Do I need to seek forgiveness? Forgive me Lord, for being so quick to talk about others and so slow to hear you voice through others to me.
“You were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” Self-control involves feelings, thought, and actions. Behavior and actions that are out of control are a clear signal that something is off in our lives. What actions, habits, and embodied behaviors are “out of control” in my life these days? What might God be doing to help me bring my body in line with His will and His holiness? O Holy Spirit, let there be a consistency between my words and my actions, that all may know I belong to you.
“…think on these things.” Self-control involves our thinking as well as our feelings and bodies. We are transformed, “by the renewing of our minds.” Why is it so important to discipline and control our thought life? How does our thinking affect and change us? Lord Jesus, help us to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” Amen.
“Better to be patient than powerful; better to have self-control than to conquer a city.” God calls us to exercise self-control is over our feelings. As Christians we are not controlled by our feelings, but by the Spirit who teaches us all truth. How do we discern the difference between our feelings and the movements of the Holy Spirit? Can our feelings of peace or unrest be the barometer of our decisions and actions? - Give us wisdom, courage, and an honest, open heart to discern your ways Lord, that we may think, act, and feel as followers of Jesus.
“God did not give us a Spirit of fear, but of power and love and self-control.” Many Christians are happy with a Spirit of love and power. Maybe we are not as excited about a Spirit of self-control. Are we looking for a way where God zaps away our questionable desires, attitudes, and actions, rather than the work of bringing those desires under control? Where am I showing self-control these days? What is it lacking in my life? - Spirit of the Living God, of power, love, and self-control; enable me to live a holy life. Amen.</
“The wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full or mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” Some people, even those in the church, may be surprised by these characteristics the reveal wisdom. Who are the people in our world that the masses consider wise? Who do you consider to be wise? Are these qualities evident in their lives? Does your life reflect these characteristics? Lord, let wisdom be real and enacted in and through my life; let it show as pure, peace-loving, considerate…Amen.
“no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” James moves back and forth in his book between the themes of an uncontrolled tongue, faith without deeds, treatment of the poor, and wisdom. What is the relationship between these themes that interweave in his letter? Does James’ view of spiritual life and maturity challenge you? In what ways? How is God addressing these issues in your life these days? It hurts to look deeply at our weaknesses Lord, graciously deal with us that we might reflect your image and glory.
“…faith by itself, if not accompanied by action, is dead.” Often this passage in James has been relegated to theological debate suggesting that James is opposed to Paul’s salvation by faith alone. Does engaging in theological debate itself sometimes keep us from taking action and doing good deeds? What kind of deeds would bring faith to life in us? What kind of deeds does the book of James envision for us? Lord, I don’t want to be on the sidelines, sitting the bench; I want to “live” the life you called me to. Holy Spirit, direct my actions today.
“Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.” James is very pointed. There are deceived religious people and there are religious people with worthless religion. Why would this assessment focus so much on control of one’s mouth, language, and words? What do our “words” reveal about us? Help us O Lord, to be slow to speak, quick to listen, and slow to anger. Amen.