Today’s promise is James 5:9:
“Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door!”
I can’t help but smile at this, because I’ve just taken a break from preparing the lesson I’ll be teaching on Sunday entitled “Dealing with Problems in Relationships.” The lesson is out of Nehemiah when strife among the Jews threatened to undermine the completion of the wall of Jerusalem.
Despite the fact that they had come out of seventy years of Babylonian servitude, despite the fact that they were surrounded by enemies determined to keep them from accomplishing God’s work, there were among them those more interested in personal profit than God’s will.
Unbelievable. Or is it? James 2:8 tells us:
“If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ you do well.”
Yet, no matter how hard we try to do good, we still struggle with a dirty little thing called pride—that nasty seed of Satan that has the power to bring down the greatest of churches and destroy the human spirit.
Profiting from the weakness of others isn’t limited to monetary gain. We can also profit socially and psychologically by allowing pride to take root. Pride can manifest itself not only in greed, but in jealousy, self-righteousness, insecurity….
It is always a result of taking our eyes off of God. We forget the standard of grace, by which we are measured, and begin to measure our brothers and sisters in Christ according to our own warped standards. We may begin to undermine them, feeling it’s our mission to “bring them down a peg” or ostracize them so we can feel better about ourselves.
We inevitably get frustrated, we “just have to vent,” and our tongues start wagging. What harm is there in venting, after all? I have to talk to someone! Too true. But what we need to be talking about is not the person who frustrates us, but the pride at the root of our frustration. Ultimately, the person we need to be talking to is God.
“The tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell.”—James 3:6
The opposite of pride is humility. The only way to stop pride from dividing the church and keeping us from our divine objective is, first to recognize it when it rears its ugly head, then take it to The Father. Ask Him to cleanse us of our foolish pride and replace it with His perfect love, that we might fulfill the royal law. This is vital for spiritual growth.
Shifting our focus back to God should make us mindful of the great things He has done for us. The great mercy He has shown us in bringing out of servitude to sin, into the promise land. This is very humbling indeed. How can we love each other any less?
James 1:26 tells us:
“If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless.”
Only when Christians are unified in God’s perfect love for one another can we overcome the enemy and accomplish whatever God asks of us. This is why Jesus, as He prepared to go to the cross for us, prayed that we would be one in Him, as He is one with The Father.
In the end, true Christians are known not by the cars they drive, the magnificent buildings they worship in, the money they give, the organizations or clicks they belong to, their fancy hair, nails, or clothes. They aren’t known for their ability to captivate crowds with words or song.
In the end, true Christians are known by their love.
Help me to lay down my pride. Help me to take every thought captive, and bridle my tongue. Help me to love my brothers and sisters with the same love you have shown me, that I may overcome the enemy and accomplish Your will for my life. Amen.
God’s grace and peace be yours,