Sermon 15-9-20

 Reading

James 3:

[16] For where envying and strife [is], there [is] confusion and every evil work.

[17] But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, [and] easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.

[18] And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.

James 4:

[1] From whence come wars and fightings among you? [come they] not hence, [even] of your lusts that war in your members?

[2] Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.

[3] Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume [it] upon your lusts.

Now here is a very important message. Avoid strife, be peaceable, make peace, avoid fighting and the underlying reasons for fighting.

The ending though is remarkable, ‘Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume [it] upon your lusts.’ Didn’t Jesus say (John 16: 24). ‘ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.’ Isn’t James 4: 3 the direct opposite?

Jesus also said (Matt. 21: 22), ‘And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.’ So we need to ask in the right faith! We are not to ask for things to consume on our lusts!

So what is the difference between the ‘joy’ in John and the ‘lust’ in James? First of all let us clear up, what the difference is not! The word lust seems to imply something sexual in English language. The Greek word is hedone. It means pleasure. Apart from this chapter it has been used three times in the Bible and each time is has been translated as such, In Luke 8: 14 Jesus spoke of ‘cares and riches and pleasures’, Titus (3: 3) wrote of ‘divers lusts (epithymia) and pleasures’, divers so there are many kinds of them, and Peter (2. Pe. 2: 10) wrote of the ‘pleasure to riot in daytime’ which can be seen from the previous verse to mean to speak evil of the things that they (the speakers) understand not.

In the whole passage there are words which some people interprete as something sexual. In James 3: 17 there are two Greek words which have been translated as the single word pure. The first word means certainly, the second one sacred or venerable, revered. Now this is what wisdom is, wisdom which leads to peace. Peace is not just about sex, but this wisdom must concern all kinds of things about which can be fought.

In James 4: 1 again the word lust occurs as a translation of hedone. The word for to war is strateuein, the mother of the word strategy. It is meant to express to lead an army to war, meaning people are lead to war by their desire.

The next verse starts out with lust again, but this time the Greek word is epithymia. Epi means around and thymos, means passion, anger or fierceness. So the word means ‘about what one’s passion, anger or fierceness is.’ So in all cases the word lust has a much broader meaning than a sexual one and in this verse it refers to possessions, ‘you desire to have and cannot obtain: … ye have not, because ye ask not.’

Now verse 3 says, ‘you ask amiss’ or poorly or wrong, because you are not to ask for things to spend on you pleasure. Yet in John 16: 24 Jesus said, ‘ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.’ What is the difference?

James 4: 4: Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

The Tayer’s Lexicon says about moicheuein, the word related to adulterer and adulteress, that by a Hebraism it is used to refer to those who at a woman’s solicitation are drawn away to idolatry, i.e. to the eating of things sacrificed to idols. This meaning fits the remainder of the verse, ‘… know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.’ In other words God is not pleased, if we are praying for things to be able to keep up with the Joneses. We should not fight one against another over the things of the world to satisfy our longing for worldly possessions as it says in James 4: 1. We can ask for a blessing, we can even ask for possession to be shared, but we cannot ask for success in competition. Competition is the underlying principle of the worship of the bull – god of whom there is an image outside the Wall Str. Stock Exchange. We are meant to love our neighbours as ourselves, we are not meant to compete with them!

Mark 9: [33] And he came to Capernaum: and being in the house he asked them, What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way?

[34] But they held their peace: for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who [should be] the greatest.

[35] And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, [the same] shall be last of all, and servant of all.

[36] And he took a child, and set him in the midst of them: and when he had taken him in his arms, he said unto them,

[37] Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me.

Do not compete!!!