16 As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.
So, now that we have seen the Gospel alternative to the merchants problems… what else needs to be said? Well, you can give two options for life, but unless you give the ultimate outcome for eah option, others will not know why it is that you are recommending one over the other(s). Therefore, James tells his readers exactly what the problem is with the way these merchants are acting. This is where we start to finally see the importance for why James would address this issue so strongly.
Question: How is it that these merchants are bragging? Answer: I, I, I, me, me, me! I will go into this town and sell MY stuff and I will make a lot of money!
I will go to this college and I will get a good degree and I will find me a good wife and I will have 1.5 children, a house with a white picked fenceâ€¦ and donâ€™t forgetâ€¦ a walk in closet!
We human beings know how to boast and brag all over ourselves. But what does James remind us?… If the Gospel is trueâ€¦ then all that boasting and bragging about ourselves is EVIL. Itâ€™s evil!
In fact, this is all over the New Testament letters. Paul says that boasting is excluded because we are justified by God through faith and not by our own works. (Romans 3:27-28) He also says to the Ephesians that we were saved by grace through faith â€“ not by works â€“ so that no one may boast. (Eph. 2:8-9) The only boasting that we are permitted to do is boasting in the Lord and in our weaknesses so that Godâ€™s strength might be shown in us through the power of the Holy Spirit within us. (2 Cor. 10:17; 11:30)
So, in all reality, Jamesâ€™ alternative for the merchants is an alternative form of boasting. A form of boasting that isnâ€™t evil!
Any what bosting is it? We are to boast in the Lordâ€¦ â€œIf it is the Lordâ€™s will, we will live and do this or that.â€ THIS is Gospel boasting and Gospel thinking. If Jesus really is Lord, then our lives must be centered on His will and His glory and our boasting must only be about us in relation to Him.
â€œI will live and do this or that, if He has written my story that way.â€ That is true Gospel boasting that honor Jesus Christ and gives glory to God, our Father.
So, to sum it all up what does James conclude? What have we said he was trying to do?
Our lives show each other the doctrines we believe. Therefore, if our lives are not in accordance with the doctrine of the Gospel of Jesus, then that means our doctrine has to change.
Once again, that doesnâ€™t always mean we need to change our intellectual answer about a specific Biblical teaching. But what that does mean is that if our lives are not in line with the doctrine of the Gospel, then we need to do one of two thingsâ€¦
We need to eitherâ€¦ (1) Believe the sound doctrine that we have been taught by our ministers, or (2) we need to be taught some good, sound doctrine that weâ€™ve never learned before and believe it with all that we are. If we will believe the Gospel, then we will be able to see the ways we act and speak begin to change in dramatic and Spirit lead ways.
Now, remember what I said briefly at the beginning. I believe that James was talking to merchants who were primarily members of the Church. That means that they knew the Gospel and they knew that Jesus is Lord.
Thatâ€™s why James can briefly, but sternly, correctly their bad doctrine by altering how they speak about the work that they do. He meant to not only change what they said, but even more, change the way they thought.
And since they did know the Gospel and they did know that Jesus is Lord, but they werenâ€™t living as though they believed itâ€¦ what did that mean?
Well, James sums it up for all of us. He pulls all of in together for this final sweeping statement!
See my next post…
In Christ and In Defense of the Faith,