There are a variety of ways to personally read, study, apply the bible. I’ve used a number of different methods over the years and have found certain ones helpful in different seasons of life. For greater background information on story-lines, genres, themes, the bible project has some wonderful resources here. If you are following along with Harbor’s Bible reading plan, we are currently in the book of James. A number of methods, as one shown here, basically frame the study time with some variation of questions related to A.) God B.) Humanity C.) Jesus D.) Repentance, Faith, Application. So here is one way to read with that framework in mind as I go through James 3. Hope this example helps you dig into and apply God’s word on your own!
What does this teach me about God (Father/Son/Holy Spirit)?
God calls people to to teach, but not all people. Those whom he does call to teach should expect greater accountability before Him and even others. True wisdom is not simply knowing more information, or even the skill of relaying that information, but is always defined by character and actions.
What does this teach me about humanity (Sinfulness as well as Dignity)?
Our speech can set the direction of our lives, therefore we need to be aware of how our words are used. We cannot speak something true of God or praise Him with our lips, while speaking evil to, or about our fellow Christians and neighbors. All people of all ages, backgrounds, ethnicity, political affiliations are made in God’s image and therefore, it does matter HOW we talk to or about those whom we disagree does matter. Pastors are not immune to narcissism, as are any sort of teachers or leaders in a church setting. Character will distinguish those who should and shouldn’t lead.
How does this passage lead me toward Jesus and increase my affection for him?
Jesus’ life was a perfect display of meekness. He was strong and challenging with words to the self righteous and yet gentle with those who felt overwhelmed by their sinfulness. His words were words given to Him by His Heavenly Father. He was aligned with His Father’s Kingdom, and therefore so were His words. He spoke these words for me, but now I can hear them spoken to me. Thank you Jesus for giving me the rebuke in my self-righteousness, calling me back to your grace. Thank you even when it is hard to hear and comes from others whom I don’t want to hear it from! Thank you for the healing and comforting words in my fears, uncertainty, and self-loathing. You forgive my words of hate and give me words of hope.
How will life today be different if I repent and believe the truth of this passage?
When I want to respond harshly toward others in their perceived sin or perceived stupidity, I will immediately bring that frustration to Jesus and ask him to do something with it. When I’m tempted to gossip today, I will remember that this is an affront to God’s special creation. I will take to pray for our country’s leaders, asking God to grant wisdom that is from above, that is humble and impartial, that leaders will lead us in respecting the dignity of each person. However, regardless of how leaders react, I will remember that Jesus Kingdom is not OF this world, and I will respond differently. As a teacher, I recognize that I’m under an even stricter accountability for how I use my words and want to be the same person I am on Sunday as I am on Monday.