SUCH WERE SOME OF YOU
Forget what manner of man you were? Presented by Steven Schiller
Jas 1:24 For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.
Addressed to "the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad" (Jm 1:1), it is especially full of advice for...
Those Christians who find themselves living in a highly mobile society like our own
Those Christians whose need for "fellowship" is often a truly "felt need" (because other normal channels of association like family, friends, etc., may be lacking)
[Let's begin by observing things we must "not" do or have, if we desire to succeed in "Enriching Our Life Together"...]
THINGS TO AVOID
ALL FILTHINESS AND OVERFLOW OF WICKEDNESS - Jm 1:21
I take this to include any sort of immoral behavior or speech - cf. Ep 5:3,4-5
The wise man wrote of the devastating effects of immorality - cf. Pr 6:27,28,29,30,31,32,33,34-35
-- Nothing will destroy the precious fellowship we have in Christ like "sin in the camp"
PARTIALITY - Jm 2:1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8-9
This was discussed in our study entitled "An Accepting Fellowship"
Showing respect of persons, either through "partiality", or its more malignant cousin "bigotry", makes us sinners before God - Jm 2:9
-- Fellowship in Christ is designed to bring us together, not divide us
MISUSE OF THE TONGUE - Jm 3:1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11-12
The tongue possesses great power to destroy, if we are not careful - Jm 3:5,6-7
When we misuse the tongue to curse men, it reveals the shallowness of our praise of God - Jm 3:9,10,11-12
-- During the war, the old Navy saying was "Loose lips sinks ships"; it can have the same effect on the peace and fellowship in a congregation!
SELFISHNESS - Jm 4:1
James reveals that the root cause of much strife is nothing more than selfishness
As he wrote earlier, "For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing will be there." - Jm 3:16
-- If we desire peace and harmony in our fellowship, we must grow beyond the egocentricism of our youth and carnality!
SPEAKING EVIL OF ONE ANOTHER - Jm 4:11-12
Here we learn that speaking evil of another evil actually "speaks evil of the law and judges the law"; do we wish to be guilty of that?
We also set ourselves up as judges, when there is really only one Judge and Lawgiver
This does not preclude the necessity to "judge with righteous judgment" (Jn 7:24), nor that we cannot "judge those who are inside" the family of God (1Co 5:9,10,11,12-13)
-- But too often we can be guilty of "judging" others according to our own personal standards; speaking "evil" of others is usually an indication of that, and quickly destroys fellowship
[These five things can prevent a congregation from enjoying "Our Life Together" that Christ intends for His church. Let's be diligent never to allow them to infect the relationship we have as the family of God!
At the same time, let's take a "pro-active" approach to building fellowship; what does James counsel us to do...?]
THINGS TO DO
VIEW CHALLENGES AS OPPORTUNITIES - Jm 1:2,3-4
Possessing a positive perspective about difficulties is good for congregations as well as individuals
Any church that is growing will likely experience problems with maintaining peace and harmony
But just as marriages are made stronger when spouses are willing to work through their difficulties, so a congregation can be made stronger by its difficulties!
PRAY FOR WISDOM - Jm 1:5,6,7-8
To be able to maintain a thriving fellowship in a congregation requires wisdom
Just as we should seek wisdom from God as individuals, so also as a congregation!
MAINTAIN PROPER PERSPECTIVES ABOUT OUR SITUATIONS - Jm 1:9,10-11
Fellowship is often disrupted by envy or pride
But God gives us reasons to be thankful for whatever situation in which we find ourselves
If all the members are willing to see themselves as God sees them, there will be no room for pride or envy
BE SWIFT TO HEAR, SLOW TO SPEAK, SLOW TO WRATH - Jm 1:19-20
Poor communication and short tempers will quickly destroy any relationship
But if all apply this "triad" of graces, problems can be gracefully handled and overcome
PRACTICE PURE AND UNDEFILED RELIGION - Jm 1:22,23,24,25,26-27
This involves each of us...
Being doers of the Word, and not just hearers
Letting our actions speak louder than our words
Attending to the needs of the less fortunate
Keeping ourselves untainted by the world
Wouldn't it be wonderful to have fellowship in a congregation where all are true "practitioners" of this kind of religion?
DEMONSTRATE WISDOM BY YOUR CONDUCT - Jm 3:13,17-18
Again, we are letting our actions speak louder than our words
Note especially verse 17, wouldn't it be wonderful to be in a congregation filled with people demonstrating a wisdom that is: "...first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy."?
PRAY FOR ONE ANOTHER - Jm 5:13,14,15-16
When we are praying for others, it is hard to be angry at them
When we know others are praying for us, it is hard not to love them
When we are praying for each other, not only is our fellowship with God strengthened, but our fellowship with one another!
RESTORE THE ERRING - Jm 5:19-20
When people stray from the faith, we lose the benefit of their fellowship with us
Restoring them back to God not only saves them, but blesses us with their renewed fellowship!
This quick survey of The Epistle Of James illustrates many of the good things we can do to be "Enriching Our Life Together"
Indeed, the entire New Testament is filled with admonitions...
Not only to enhance our relationship with God
But also to enhance our fellowship with one another!
-- Let the Word of God be our guide to creating and maintaining "Our Life Together"!
How about "your" relationship with God and His children (i.e., the church)? Is it what it ought to be? Can we help you draw nearer to God and His family...? - cf. Ga 3:26-27; Jm 5:16