12.27.2009

more james

Let's start with a brief summary of what has been covered in the first few verses, ala the ESV Study Bible:

"Trials are designed to produce spiritual maturity and should therefore be counted as joy."

Now I will attempt to try and write in a far less rigid and formal manner, yo. Seriously, all this writing as a business school undergraduate, I mean, former business school undergraduate has really put me in a stiff and academic writing stance. Enough shenanigans, onwards to the Word!

6. let him ask in faith
The right way to pray is to first have faith, to believe. If we pray and we don't believe, our prayers are meaningless. That would be like me asking for a date with a lovely lady, I don't believe I will be answered, but I ask anyways! Zing! Anyone wanna drive me to the hospital, because I just burnt myself.
...Ok, I'll stop. 

like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed
When we pray doubtfully, we subject ourselves to a mental and perhaps emotional storm. Doubts flood our mind, they act like the unseen forces of the wind that drive the fleeting wave of water to and fro and smash it to millions of droplets. Ultimately, a doubting prayer is an affront to God's faithfulness. Make note: God's faithfulness, meaning that God is faithful, trustworthy. You can count on God to not fail or disappoint.

8. a double-minded man
What are the two minds here? The Greek word is transliterated as "dipsychos", and if I have my extremely limited knowledge of Greek correct, this literally means "two minds", hence the double-minded man. Some may call one who is double minded a hypocrite, and this is correct. However I tend to agree with Calvin when he points to a different dichotomous psyche here.

"[T]he unbelieving, who have tortuous recesses, are unstable; because they are never firm or fixed, but at one time they swell with the confidence of the flesh, at another they sink into the depth of despair."

The little notes that I see on CCEL.org (a site that I highly recommend to you, specifically for Calvin's commentaries and Puritan writings, for free) put it this way:

"The double-minded,” or the man with two souls, δίψυχος, means here no doubt the man who hesitates between faith and unbelief, because faith is the subject of the passage. When again used, in James 4:8, it means a hesitation between God and the world."

 Faith and unbelief. These really are on the two opposite ends of the spiritual spectrum, but do they not characterize so many of the victories and defeats of the Christian life?

Side note: Toblerone Chocolate...mmm.

9-11. Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away.
The poor - and might I add that if you are an American, you are likely rich, very rich, even the "poor" college kids - ok I splice my sentences too much. Let's get back on track. The poor are called to exalt in their situation because they have all the riches of Christ and have previously not known or been fully seduced by the riches of this world. I would remind everyone that there are no U-Hauls behind hearses. To quote a lyric of Thrice inspired by the words of Jesus "Put your faith in more than steel: don't store your treasures up with moth and rust, where thieves break in and steal." Once again, getting back on track.

The rich are called to boast in humiliation. What? Yeah, that's what I said when I first read this. I was somewhat dumbfounded by the seemingly contradictory use of boast and humiliation. Again, Calvin helped the hunch I had develop into a more solid thought. Calvin notes:

"Lest, then, the vain joy of the world should captivate the rich, they ought to habituate themselves to glory in the casting down of their carnal excellency."

Basically, those who are rich are to be in a humble state of mind and being. Humiliation...humble...root words anyone? Wow! Check out what Wikipedia has to say on humiliation:

"Humiliation (also called stultification) is the abasement of pride, which creates mortification or leads to a state of being humbled or reduced to lowliness or submission."

I think whenever I see the word "mortification" used in a sentence I get a little too gleeful.
Why should the rich and poor boast in their respective states? Christ is the treasure that is unlike the grass and flower that fall and fade away, and those who chase after worldly goods and stuff will pass away in their pursuit. The end of verse 10 seems to indicate to me that if we seek for joy and satisfaction in earthly goods, we will die trying to get it.

Ok, I think that is all for today.

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