Scripture: James 3:13-4:12
Key verse: (4:1) “Those conflicts and disputes among you, where do they come from?”
Reflection: Have you ever been upset about something, like really really mad, and just had to share your anger with someone else? I know often when I go to share my anger with others it is so that I will be justified in my anger, that the other will say, “Yeah, that’s right, you should be mad, and not only that but…” And maybe for a moment I feel better, I feel like someone else sees the world in the way that I do and that my anger is justified. But then there are the times when you go to share your frustration with someone else and the person you share with doesn’t immediately join in your frustration and support you, but instead they ask questions, and those questions often lead to something deeper, something more real. I feel like this is what the author of James is doing in 4:1, “Those conflicts and disputes among you, where do they come from?”
The leaders of the early church would go from town to town, spending time with the community, teaching, encouraging one another, eating together, and showing what it means to be a follower of Christ. After some time, those who established the local church would move on to another town but the distance didn’t stop the communication. As we see in many of Paul’s letters, the church communities that Paul established would write letters to Paul asking for guidance and to act as an arbiter of arguments. In the letter of James, we aren’t entering into a specific community dispute, but it is often thought that James wrote this letter as a general piece of wisdom for all Christian communities. And when I think about it and read this letter, it makes sense that James is writing to the community at large, for James is writing to me as well, and probably you.
In his letter James doesn’t take sides on an argument, he doesn’t lift one group up while putting another down, he doesn’t steak his claim on an issue, instead he takes issue with the grounds for having conflict among fellow Christians in the first place. If we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, we know that James is right, especially in a world that so often values winning over being right. Trusting in God’s grace, begin today from a place of vulnerability, strive to live in peace, leave behind the desire to “win” and instead strive for being in right relationship with God and one another.
Prayer: Ever loving God, give us patience today to listen for your will. Guide us that we may not act too quickly but pause to hear your voice and see your moving. By your Spirit plant within us seeds of righteousness that a harvest of peace may be sown. Through Christ our Savior we pray. Amen.
Author: John Magnuson
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].