Lifestyle Christianity 10: Doing the Right Thing

 
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JAMES 4:11-17

11  Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge. 12  There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another? 13  Go to now, ye that say, Today or tomorrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: 14  Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. 15  For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. 16  But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil. 17  Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.

James has spent the majority of this Epistle dealing with high, spiritual principles centered on living the Christian life, particularly righteousness and faith. As he begins drawing his words to a close, we arrive at some practical examples of how to apply these principles in every day life. As Identity Christians, we have had alot of truth dancing around in our heads, some of us for quite awhile. Now it's time to see where 'the rubber meets the road' and start living these things out.

James picks this up by again, dealing with the importance of controlling our tongue. What does it look like to have so many Christians at one another's throats so much? Since Israelites were the only ones given the law, it is our responsiblity to not only try to follow it, but represent it among one another as well, with dignity and love. We must always keep in mind, we are not the Judge. Nor are we to get so caught up in this life that it takes our attention off of God's plan. This life is temporal. Whether we realize it or not, we are totally dependant upon Christ for everything, including our future. Past successes do not make up for the present good we are meant to be doing. One effective way to avoid sin in our lives is to always look to do the right thing in our present situations.

JAMES 4:11-12

11  Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge. 12  There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another?

So we're not to speak evil of one another as brethren; easier said than done. It takes thought and care. We should never be in pursuit of "evil" or bad news on someone else. If we happen to find out or know something bad about someone, we're not to rejoice in it by spreading it around. If we must communicate about it, it should be with a broken-heart in hopes of repentance and resolution for all who are involved. But saying bad hateful things both to or about someone else which is forbidden in these verses, only makes matters worse. Why do we have such a hard time understanding this?!

According to this what we say or will even listen to about our brother reflects how we feel about the Word of God. Do you tolerate, enjoy, or even participate in saying bad things about others? Do you really want to "judge the law"? Then do not speak evil of your brother.

Most offences between brethren occur verbally. No matter how hard we try, eventually we are going to talk if someone has offended us. When we've been offended by a brother or sister, we need to go directly to the person who has offended us privately, no one else. If you cannot work it out with them, then a limited number of others must be involved. Here is the breakdown of this as commanded by Christ:

MATTHEW 18:15-17

15  Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. 16  But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. 17  And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

The problem is, most of our people don't even know Christ instructed us on how to handle this, and so most situations become nothing more than an ugly, shameful mess of confusion. The goal is to keep the issue small and quiet, trying to solve it with the fewest number possible. This is a far better alternative than just speaking evil of a brother with someone else. Giving close attention to controlling our tongue with our brethren is doing the right thing.

JAMES 4:13-15

13  Go to now, ye that say, Today or tomorrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: 14  Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. 15  For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.

Not only do we need to watch what we say about others but we need to be careful what we tell people about ourselves. Before we declare such 'big plans', we need to keep our place in this life in perspective. We are here for God, not just ourselves. How can we make such long term plans when we don't even know what's going to happen "tomorrow" or even the rest of "Today"? We wake each day knowing that God is true, that He is in control, and that is all. Setting up expectations too high based on this world can set us up for dissappointment or even a fall. We must remember that God is always right on time and that He will sustain us if we will only trust Him.

There's nothing wrong with wanting to be blessed and wanting to be successful. Yet anyone who lives by faith knows that this life can be fluid and we need to be open to God's leading by being flexible. We may make plans relating to our job or business, but we must never lose sight of the fact that we have been bought with a price and belong to Yahweh. Therefore when it comes down to it we "ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that" as it pertains to the timing of anything we want to do, especially when it comes to our desires coming to pass.

There's nothing wrong with being a businessman as long as you are honest. Even if you own your own business, God is the Boss and His Spirit will guide you in your day to day decisions. If you have any success, it is because you are trusting God to bless your business and running it for His glory as your top priority. We are to run or do business by faith. There is no living our personal life one way and our business life some other way; it's one life 24/7 for Christ. Your Heavenly Father blessed you with that business as a way to display doing the right thing with the public.

Is this prohibiting making plans for the future or even having a schedule? Of course not. This is teaching that we should never put any confidence in our plans because we never know what is going to happen from day to day or even one hour to the next. While we should be responsible and organized, we should be open to the leading of the Holy Spirit in our lives and be ready to change our plans.

Our ideas and plans are not etched in stone. God can always direct us to something better or lead us a better way. The point is: we can't get too busy to serve God and our brethren. For we "know not what shall be on the morrow" or what could happen even tomorrow. So how can we mark off any block of time, especially "a year" to just "buy and sell". Day by day we are to live to follow Christ from within.

Though we should brim with optimism concerning our future in Christ, we mustn't look too far ahead in this life. Our life is like "a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away". We better recognize that what we do for "the Lord" and therefore our brethren, is all that is going to last. We can get so busy 'doing our thing', that many times, we're not doing a thing for God. We need to wake up and realize 'right now' is always our best opportunity. There is no promise of a tomorrow in this life for us, though how we choose to live the remainder of our days will effect our future in eternity. As children of the Ever-Present I AM we are to live in the NOW. As we cannot live in the past and neither should we live too far in the future. Faith is in the now and so is your life.

The Lord's will is for each of us to trust and believe in Him always in the NOW. Plus, we must never forget that as Isralietes, we are part of a much bigger plan. Everything we do reflects upon the kingdom of God. Focusing on trusting God is doing the right thing.

JAMES 4:16-17

16  But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil. 17  Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.

It feels good when others notice something good we have done. To get unexpected recognition encourages us to "do good" even more. Does it really do any good however to make "boastings" orto brag on ourselves? James says that "all such rejoicing is evil." Many times, people brag on themselves only trying to look better or to cover something up. If we want to brag, then do it about someone else or even God. If you know how good it feels, why not give someone else that feeling by bragging on them when it is due. Anything good we boast about in someone else ultimately gives glory to Christ. Looking to brag on and encourage others is doing the right thing. Just keep doing good and eventually someone will be bragging on you.

Maybe we think we've done enough, say for a certain individual, exempting us from doing any more good for them. Or maybe we feel since we have done so much for them, that somehow gives us a license to not treat them as good or to even neglect and criticize them. Yet according to this verse, nothing exempts us from still doing good to them.

This is in reference to sins of omission, but not only that. Like it or not, this is all in the context of faith, as righteousness is the opposite of "sin". What would be a Biblical definition of doing "good"? That which is pleasing to God. The Bible also says that whatsoever is not of faith is sin; we cannot get around this. We've been taught sin is failing to keep a list of do's and dont's. However faith is obeying God from the heart, based upon your love for God thru how we treat one another.

The Christian life is like target practice. Sin is when we miss the mark. Pleasing God is the center of the bull's eye. Love is the strength we use to pull back the bow. Faith is the amount of focus we hold as we aim the arrow. When opportunities arise and we have it within our means to do something good for someone else, according to this if we refuse to follow thru, "it is sin". But if we're looking to do the right thing we will not miss the opportunity and we will hit the mark.

REFLECTION

Lifestyle Christianity comes down to making right choices in every day life. What we say about others reflects what we really feel about the Word of God. Let's do the right thing by treating others the way we want to be treated while fighting against sin in our own lives.