James is a book about necessities. Our modern bookshelves are crowded with books about money management and investments, career success, strategic planning, beauty secrets and diets and exercise programs promising health and longevity. But what about the inner person, the spiritual, the connection with God?
Someone told me when I was young, “Be careful what you say, because your words can come back to hurt you and once said they can't be erased.” It is inevitable that James, teaching about the significance and power of living a Christian life, includes “the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great exploits” (v. 5)
James the brother of Jesus, sometimes called “James the Just,” was one of the first leaders in the Jerusalem church, who urged the inclusion of non-Jews in that congregation. His letter is written in a practical voice, calling for consistent Christian living in a world that entices us with easy answers and goals of personal success. Being the people of God requires focusing on living each day with an eye on the future God has prepared.
Luke, the lone Gentile gospel writer, displays a heightened sense of excitement as Jesus “set his face to go to Jerusalem” (v. 51). The very concept of God sending his Son into this world to die for us was totally foreign to the world of that day. The simple words of Jesus foreshadow a goal the world still has trouble understanding.
Many of the choices we all face involve choosing between right and wrong, but the toughest decisions may be between good and good. In today's study passages, Jesus says “no” because of God's ultimate priority.
Choices have consequences, whether it be eating a second donut or buying a new car. Then there are the really big choices such as honesty, marriage and money management. But the biggest choice of all is God!