Meditations on James 4:11-17

v11, “speak no evil” is also translated, “no back-biting” in Rom. 1:30 & 2Cor. 12:20. Why? Because we are family! (brothers). Life is short, Death is sure, Sin is the cause, Christ is the cure! Therefore we should echo our Master’s words. “Judge not, that ye be not judged” Mat. 7:1. If we speak evil of a brother, we judge them and if we accuse a brother behind his back we are back-biting. This quickly detracts from his good name as a Christian and we take upon our own heart the weight of judgment. Even the old law, which Jewish Christians were supposed to love, condemned speaking evil about a brother, Leviticus 19:16-18. By passing sentences upon a brother, we can take upon our self (in God’s eyes) the jurisdiction of the law, which is to accuse, charge, convince, pronounce guilty, and condemn: And then what have we done? We have mishandled the law itself! So in v12, James points out that the only person able to handle the law perfectly is the one and only Lawgiver, being Christ, not Moses. See what the Law of Christ is in Galatians 6:1-3, it’s the opposite of speaking evil.

James questions in v13, a worldly attitude amongst God’s children. It is the planning of making money by trusting in one’s own abilities and plans instead of seeking God’s power & desire to be helping them use their resources. They were being presumptuous, thinking that “my life” belonged to just to themselves, and feeling secure in their money, while feeling they did not need God (see Jer. 12:1-5) They need to stay in touch with reality from God’s perspective and that is only His perspective is long range, we are only short-sighted, if we don’t accept God’s foresight. It’s like being honest about today while you have no certainty in tomorrow, yet you live like eternity is a real victory because you are always looking for ways God can use what you have and who you are.

v14 contains the phrase “Know what will happen”This means ignoring the providential, sovereign reign of God in our lives (Job 9:5-6; 28:25; Psalm 104:10-25; 145:15; 147:9; Matt. 4:4; 6:26-28; Luke 12:6-7; Acts 17:25-28; Rom. 8:28). It is to live our lives our own way with arrogant presumption and self-satisfied forgetfulness of God. This mindset shows disregard for God’s personal attention to the details of our daily life. James’ readers would wholeheartedly agree with this; however, they did not practice it! When we make plans without God, we are like a blind person stepping into the dark without guidance or sight.

v15 actually uses a common Greek expression “If the Lord wills” seen in (Acts 18:21; 1 Cor. 16:7), and used as a Latin motto, “Deo Volente” for centuries by committed Christians. This refers to the fact that God’s will is supreme. We have no preview of future events, despite what some people say about “Revelation”. The future is conditional to God’s will, not ours. God is universal. He is sovereign, preserving, and leading all of us intimately and personally with care, while remaining in control of the entire universe! The way to avoid a worldly confidence in tomorrow is to ask God what are my opportunities and gifts and how can I use them to Your glory? This is an operating system for your decisions that control both your programming input and output. The system is prayer and precepts, seeking Him, and learning His Word, so you can make good, healthy decisions (Luke 12:19-20; Prov. 16:9; Isa. 56:12).v16-17 shows clearly that James believes if we reject this Godly vision, we are sinning, because deep down even atheists know they are not in control of tomorrow. So we must, “seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well” Luke 12:31

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