James as Consistency
Consistency is the strength we are talking about this morning. Consistency is being reliable, steady and treating people fairly. Making rules that are fair.
James was the brother of Jesus but was an unbeliever until Jesus was resurrected. He got saved and worked his way up until he was the lead pastor at the Jerusalem church.
And that is when the church faced a serious split.
Gentiles were pouring into the church and getting saved. The saved Jews thought the Gentiles should be made to follow the dietary laws of Moses and circumcision.
This threatened to split the church so a counsel was called to deal with this problem. See Acts 15.
James presided over that meeting. The split was averted when James rose up and said, If God has chosen to call the Gentiles and fill them with the Holy Spirit as Peter testified who are we to make them keep dietary laws and the rite of circumcision? We need to treat them as our brothers and sisters.
Later when James wrote the book of James he made it a point to remind the church to treat the rich and poor as brothers equally.
James chapter 2. “For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, ‘You sit here in a good place,’ and say to the poor man, ‘You stand there,’ or ‘Sit here at my footstool,’ Have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?”
The rich wore about 8 rings on their fingers to show their wealth. I wear two rings which would make me middle class:]
When I read this passage I wondered where the “best seat” in the church would be. In England during the 1700’s the rich were seated in the front row followed by the trades people who sat behind the rich. And finally the common people who sat in the back of the church. After the service the rich would stand and slowly walk down the aisle while the common people stood and watched. Makes you wonder if they read James.
The church is for everybody. There are no special seats for the rich. And we sing, “You’re my brother you’re my sister so take me by the hand. . .”
Those wearing a tux can sit next to those in flip flops.
Jesus taught us to pray, “Our Father” because as soon as you say, “Our” you include all of God’s family rich and poor, high brow, low brow and no brow:]
Then in chapter 3 James deals with our language. The tongue has no bones in it but it can break a heart. We need to watch our language.
James said with our tongue we bless God and curse man. This should not be. Our tongue should not be giving mixed signals. What is a mixed signal? If you point your finger to your forehead describing someone it can mean they are “smart” and the same sign could mean they are “stupid.” Just the opposite. Isn’t that interesting?
James says with our tongue we bless God and curse man. Our tongue should be used for blessing. We need to let God do the cursing. He told Abraham, “I will make you a blessing” but God said, “I will curse him who curses you.” Let God do what He has to do and stick to blessing people.
If you go to the doctor he might ask you to stick your tongue out and say, “Ahhh” because he is looking for signs of ill health. God is also looking. He can see a sharp tongue and hot temper. We teach our children to sing, "Be careful little tongue what you say, there’s a Father up above looking down in perfect love so be careful little tongue what you say.”
Jesus said, “Our of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” If we put His words in our hearts our speech will show it.
Jesus is the ultimate in Consistency. He treated people with respect. He touched a leper who was considered untouchable. When He touched the leper He touched death. He touches us where we have sinned. Paul said, “Oh wretched man that I am...” That is where we need His touch.
He said, “Come unto me all you who are weary and I will give you rest.” Notice He said, “All you who are weary.” Jesus treats people fairly and so should we.
The one important fact about this verse is knowing you have a need. That is what Jesus comes to touch - our need.
Forgiveness would be the test. Look what happens to the Prodigal. After he squandered his father’s wealth and is now down and out living with hogs he comes to himself and returns home. When he arrived his father embraced him and welcomed him back. He was forgiven and accepted.
Jesus told that story because He wants us to know we will be welcomed back if we return to our Father.
Jesus said to the dying thief, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” When we come to the end of the road it’s never too late to call on His name.
Who qualifies for forgiveness?
Anyone who knows they don’t deserve it! If that is you Jesus wants to forgive you for the asking.
His forgiveness does not mean He removes the memory. David said, “My sin is ever before me.” But the knowledge that Jesus has forgiven us is also ever before us.
A bruised reed He will not destroy. Are you bruised? Come just as you are.
Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. He will handle our past, is with us in our present and will be with us as we face our future.
When you find yourself in a storm He will meet you there.
When you are in the valley you won’t be walking alone. “For Thou art with me.”
When you are in deep water He said, “I will be with you.”
And when you are in the fiery furnace He will appear.
The Lord was with Noah when he was building that ark and stayed with him through the storm. The Lord was with Abraham when he had to wait such a long time for the promise. The Lord was with Moses when he had to lead the people across a wilderness and was with him when those people wanted to stone him.
Jesus said to His disciples, “Lo I am with you always even unto the end.”
When we are lost He will find us. When we are lonely He will be with us. When we are discouraged He will lift us up. When we are afraid, the Lion of the tribe of Judah will surround us.
David said, “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go into the house of the Lord.’” Why? Because this is the one place where you will be welcomed with open arms. David’s record wasn’t good but he came to a good God who forgave him when he was in need.
Conclusion: People come to church because they want what Jesus has for them. So often they leave because they don’t like so and so or so and so said something they don’t like. If we have decided to follow Jesus there is no turning back. Let’s be consistent in our faith.