Daily Bible Readings-Week 6

Rev. Doug Heiman   -  

Starter Question
When was the last time someone else’s words impacted you?

October 11
James 1:19, My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,

We continue with the same Scripture as last week but move on to the second command. “Everyone should be slow to speak.”

We have more avenues than ever to communicate so, if we desire, we can speak many words quickly to a large number of people. So, this instruction not only pertains to our verbal conversations but, also, to texting and all forms of social media.

Healthy communication listens more and talks less. It hears what others have to say before jumping in too quickly to express our thoughts, feelings, and opinions. However, this verse does not tell us not to speak. Good communication requires appropriate give and take in conversation. So, what does it mean to be slow to speak?

We should think before we speak so that our words and manner come across appropriately. When we are frustrated or angry, we want to filter out as much emotion before responding. We choose to speak in a way that helps the conversation move along in a positive manner to create unity rather than division.

If we are quick to speak, we may appear to “know it” all. Many words spoken quickly may indicate pride and an attempt to control others. Several verses in Proverbs caution us:

Proverbs 12:18, The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

Proverbs 16:21, The wise in heart are called discerning, and gracious words promote instruction.

Proverbs 16:24, Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.

Proverbs 17:27, The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint, and whoever has understanding is even-tempered.

Proverbs 20:19, A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid anyone who talks too much.

Question to Consider:
In what situations do you struggle the most with talking too quickly or too much?

Weekly Memory Verse:
James 4:15, Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 

October 12
James 3:1-12, Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check. When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.

Those of us who are called and tasked with teaching others need to be careful with what we say for we speak on behalf of God. We will be judged according to how we have handled His Word. This verse causes me to shudder!

James goes on to speak of the power of the tongue. If we are able to control what we say, we have become perfect! As small as the tongue is, it is a powerful tool for good or evil. It is like the small rudder that controls the direction of a large ship. It is like a small spark that sets a massive forest on fire. Unlike many kinds of animals that can be tamed, no one has determined how to tame the tongue.

What troubles James the most is that one moment we can praise God, and, in the next moment, we curse one another who have been made in God’s very image. As believers filled with the Spirit of God, this should not be. This cannot be. Nature gives us many examples where it is impossible to produce something different. Salt water cannot produce fresh water. Olives, figs, and grapes cannot come from the same vine or tree. It makes no sense that redeemed human beings would condemn others with their speech.

Questions to Consider:
Why do Christians produce such a wide variety of content with their mouths? When do you tend to speak what is positive? When do you tend to speak what is negative?

Weekly Memory Verse:
James 4:15, Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 

October 13
James 4:11-12, Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?

Slander is such an evil use of the tongue. The dictionary’s definition of slander is “the action or crime of making a false spoken statement damaging to a person’s reputation.” Slander is not only a sin but is such a detriment to society, it can, also, be a crime.

Like James’ argument yesterday, how can we praise God and destroy one another with our mouths? Again, James is speaking to Christians who slander Christians. This is beyond imagination that within the Body of Christ we would treat each other in such a vicious, mean-spirited way.

When we do this, we are not just speaking against each other, we are speaking against God’s Word. When we judge one another in inappropriate ways, we judge and demean God’s Word in the same way.

Whenever we do this, we are saying we know better. We are not being obedient to God’s Word but saying our judgment is greater. What we believe and say is more important than what God has to say. When we do this, we bring judgment on God Himself.

But God is both the source of the Word and Judge of how it is lived out. He alone has the ability to save us and condemn us. We have not been given such authority or responsibility for each other.

Jesus said it this way,
Matthew 7:1-2, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

Questions to Consider:
Why do we feel a need to harshly judge one another? What can we glean from this passage that will help motivate us from judging one another in inappropriate ways?

Weekly Memory Verse:
James 4:15, Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”

October 14
James 4:13-17, Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.

James addresses the issue of pride and how it comes known in our boasting about our plans. He speaks to those who are overly confident in what they are going to do, where they are going, and how they will make money in the future.

He wonders how can we be so confident when it is impossible for us to know what is going to happen tomorrow. We know life can change suddenly for the good or the bad. It can bring opportunity or take it away.

In fact, he reminds us of what we do not want to be reminded of, just how mortal we are.
He speaks of our lives as a mist. We’re here one day and gone another. This is rather dark and depressing. However, he wants us to realize that our attitude toward life and God matters. He wants us to know that what we say matters as it reflects our understanding of who we are in relationship with God.

He gives us the appropriate humble Christian attitude and wording to speak about our future. “If it is the Lord’s will.” In all things, as believers, we desire to be within the will of the Lord so we must not boast about our future plans as though there is nothing that could stop us from accomplishing them.

So, if we know this is the appropriate attitude and speech for Christ-followers in our relationship with God and yet do not follow the Lord’s will, he tells us plainly, we have sinned.

Questions to Consider:
How do you react to James’ comment that you are just a mist? Do you need to change your attitude or your words to humble yourself regarding the Lord’s daily will for your life?

Weekly Memory Verse:
James 4:15, Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 

October 15
James 5:12-16, Above all, my brothers and sisters, do not swear—not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. All you need to say is a simple “Yes” or “No.” Otherwise you will be condemned. Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

James starts this section by telling us there is no need to swear on the Bible or our grandmother’s grave or anything else we choose to swear by. Instead, as followers of Jesus, we should be people who simply say what we mean. We should follow through with what we say. We should value our word as an extension of who we are. To break our word is to break our integrity. Our Yes should mean Yes and No should mean No.

Then he offers some holy ways in which we can use our mouths for good. We should pray when we are in trouble. We should sing songs of praise when we are filled with joy.

If you are sick, ask your family, friends, small group, pastors, to pray over you and anoint you with oil in the name of Jesus. With those whom you can absolutely trust, confess your sins and pray for each other so that you may be completely healed both physically and spiritually.

There is much good that we can use our mouths to accomplish. Praying. Singing. Encouraging. Asking. Confessing. This gives us a picture of a healthy church and small group environment where we confidentially listen and share as we build one another up.

When our children were younger and not speaking appropriately to each other, we had them memorize this verse:

Ephesians 4:29, Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

Question to Consider:
What are the words and ways that you can increase the positive and wholesome talk in building others up?

Weekly Memory Verse:
James 4:15, Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”