I’m a planner. I admit I can even obsess over it. I always want everything to be “just right.” These verses really gave me something to think about. When does planning become boastful? I suppose the answer to that is when you don’t invite God into the planning process.
James would suggest even our semantics matter. “What you ought to say is, ‘If the LORD wants us to, we will live and do this or that.’” How do we know what the LORD wants us to do? That’s the rub! I have been known to say, “God willing, we will do this or do that.” I like the confident peace I get from knowing my plans are blessed by God.
We can tell a lot about James’ audience by what he teaches them. It seems they may have had a lot of similar faults to people we may recognize. Jealousy, selfishness, boasting, and lying are not uncommon in our culture today and might even be running rampant. What does James say about that? “Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic.”
Take a moment to let that sink in. Demonic. It makes sense. Those attributes are certainly distasteful when you have experienced the Holy Spirit living inside you. James warns us to stay away from such things, for in them evil resides. Clearly his readers are having a hard time trading in their worldly habits and ideas in exchange for God’s viewpoint. Thankfully, James gives us a solution.
You are witnessing a milestone for this devotional blog! This is the 1,800th post! I chose this Bible passage especially for this occasion. The children at church sang a song about the armor of God yesterday–complete with battle gear made out of something indestructible that looked much like brown construction paper. The visual was incredible, but watching their innocent faces as they shared this timely message is what brought tears to my eyes. I knew this was the message God wanted me to share with you today.
We find ourselves living in challenging times. While true today, this statement could be said by many, if not all, past generations as well. Have no fear, God has set us up for success! Keeping our focus on God is the first step. Next, we have the “armor” Paul talks about here to give us all the security and hope we need. Let’s take a look at what we have access to.
How are we supposed to live as God’s chosen ones? We have to know and accept that people are watching us. Ask, “do I make a good representative of Christ?” An important message to cling to is — God chose YOU. And with that honor comes responsibility. Paul reminds us, “Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.”
Don’t let this “must” scare you off. Rather, be thankful for the advice you have been given. Chances are pretty good that you are already seeking to live a life that reflects these things. The Holy Spirit living inside us will certainly help when our human frailty fails. I know I’m certainly thankful for the Holy Spirit!
Talk about dramatic impact in this transition! Micah places these verses, which are almost identical to verses in Isaiah 2, right here after speaking of the destruction of Jerusalem. We know that Isaiah and Micah are contemporaries speaking to the same audience. Did God choose to give them both the same message, or do you think Micah is quoting Isaiah? Micah doesn’t say.
We have clearly jumped far into the future when God will reign over all. The people of Judah see indication of a bright future as Micah designates Jerusalem. Do you think the people could fully grasp what this meant having not experienced the exile yet?