Formations lesson for Sept. 15: Sin vs. Wisdom
August 23 2002 by T. Wayne Proctor , James 3:1-18

Formations lesson for Sept. 15: Sin vs. Wisdom | Friday, Aug. 23, 2002

Friday, Aug. 23, 2002

Formations lesson for Sept. 15: Sin vs. Wisdom

By T. Wayne Proctor James 3:1-18

Have you ever been shocked by someone else's speech? Perhaps you heard a church leader or Sunday School teacher use language or make remarks which you found offensive. Perhaps it was at the ball field, auto garage, home or place of work. You were shocked because what you heard was not what you normally hear on Sunday mornings.

Teaching is serious business (James 3:1) My philosophy of teaching in the Sunday School is this: Teaching is a gift, a spiritual gift. Not everyone can teach effectively. Further, some are effective with only one age group, while others have the ability to teach almost any age group.

Teaching is also an honor. If you are a Sunday School teacher, then you should do this task faithfully, prayerfully, humbly and honorably.

Twenty years ago I served in a church where a youth Sunday School teacher told her students, "Do as I say, not as I do." That statement bothered me then and it bothers me even more today.

That statement doesn't work because students hear what you say, and they also "hear" what they see. What you say and what they see needs to match.

The tongue (James 3:2-12) James calls the tongue a fire - a fire that can be ignited by hell itself. These are extreme words.

His first two illustrations to describe the force and power of speech are much more palatable. The bridle for the horse and the rudder for the ship serve the same purpose - to keep something under control which, when left alone, would have no definite direction.

Something so small can do amazing things, especially in the hands of a master. There is nothing more beautiful to watch than an equestrian or sailboat race.

Likewise, speech can be a source of inspiration, beauty and joy.

Fire is the opposite. Fire speaks of destructive, uncontrollable fury. Fire is associated with evil and with Satan himself.

During June and July, hundreds of thousands of acres of land were destroyed by fires in Colorado and California. In addition, homes were destroyed and lives were lost. This kind of tragedy often happens because of little accidents or mistakes in judgment.

It is humbling to think that teachers will be judged more strictly by God than non-teachers. Yet, what we do in the field of Christian education is extremely important. I would go so far as to call it essential.

As an educator myself, I am always talking to our people in terms of making the connection between church and home and world. I truly believe Christians are to be different in their speech and behavior, and if it means dressing differently, talking differently and acting differently, than so be it.

In verse 8, James goes so far as to state that "no one can tame the tongue." If that be true, then what hope is there?

The Christian's hope is in the Holy Spirit. He can change us when no one else can, provided we let Him.

James reminds me of Paul's struggle as he described it in Romans. "O wretched man that I am, who can deliver me? Only Jesus Christ, and thanks be to God for Him" (Rom. 7:24-25).

Who is wise? (James 3:13-18) One of the arguments made against James by some is that he differs from Paul theologically, emphasizing works over grace.

I find this to be an empty argument. For example, in these verses we find a direct parallel to Paul's words in Gal. 5:22-26. Wisdom is making the right decision, even when it may not advance our personal-life agendas. Wisdom has not as much to do with intellect as it has to do with character.

Look at James' words. It's not about ambition, pride or gaining the affections of certain people. It's about spiritual fruit-bearing: gentleness, peace, mercy and preferring others over self.

James, like Paul, is calling Christians to grow up, to be responsible, and to always make sure they are saying and doing the right things for the right reasons.

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8/23/2002 12:00:00 AM by T. Wayne Proctor , James 3:1-18 | with 0 comments
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