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James 4:11-17

Sunday Morning Bible Study

August 11, 2019


The church move

We’ve been given our twelve-month notice and need to move by July 25, 2020.  We had 16 years left on our original lease.

Reason: Two growing churches bumping up against each other.

We are trusting that God will be doing amazing things.

If you see property possibilities, DON’T call the leasing agent – it will drive the price up.  Instead call the office and we will have our agent follow up.

We don’t want to be like that man in Elisha’s day that didn’t believe the famine was going to end…

(2 Kings 7:2 NKJV) —2 So an officer on whose hand the king leaned answered the man of God and said, “Look, if the Lord would make windows in heaven, could this thing be?” And he said, “In fact, you shall see it with your eyes, but you shall not eat of it.”

Thursday night is movie night…

Video: Breakthrough Trailer



The book of James is possibly one of the earliest things written in the New Testament.

It’s thought to have been written around AD 40-50

It was written by James, the half-brother of Jesus.

James’ father was Joseph, while Jesus’ father was God.

Though James didn’t believe Jesus was the Messiah until after the resurrection, James would eventually be recognized as the leader of the church in Jerusalem.

James was known in the early church as “James the Just” because of his great devotion to God and purity of life.

Ancient historian Eusebius describes James’ prayer life, that he…

was frequently found upon his knees begging forgiveness for the people, so that his knees became hard like those of a camel, in consequence of his constantly bending them in his worship of God, and asking forgiveness for the people[1]

While the apostle Paul wrote mainly to Gentiles, James is writing to the Jews.

His teachings are going to be very practical (hence our “tools” pic) and will draw much from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, as well as the book of Proverbs.

4:11-12 Judging

:11 Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.

speak evilkatalaleo (“against” + “speak”) – to speak against one, to slander

tense: Present active imperative (1st time)

tense: Present active participle (2nd time)

tense: Present active indicative (3rd time)

judgeskrino – to separate, put asunder, to pick out, select, choose; to approve, esteem, to prefer; to judge; to pronounce an opinion concerning right and wrong; of those who act the part of judges or arbiters in matters of common life, or pass judgment on the deeds and words of others

tense: Present active participle (1st time)

tense: Present active indicative (2nd time)

tense: Present active indicative (3rd time)

tense: Present active participle (4th time)

:11 …speaks evil of a brother …speaks evil of the law


Love and the Law

When James is talking about “the law”, he’s not talking about the Ten Commandments.
He’s not talking about the 600+ commands in the Old Testament. 
He’s talking about something greater.
During the last week of Jesus’ life, He was challenged by many religious experts.
(Matthew 22:35–40 NKJV) —35 Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” 37 Jesus said to him, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

Two laws acted as summaries of the entire Old Testament Law system.

The first “law” is found in Deut. 6:5, the law to love God with all that you are.

(Deuteronomy 6:5 NKJV) You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.

The second “law” is found in Lev. 19:18, the law to love your “neighbor” as yourself.

(Leviticus 19:18 NKJV) You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.

If you look at all the Laws of the Old Testament, they are summed up with these two things – loving God and loving others.

If you do those two things, you won’t be breaking any of the other laws.

If you are slandering another person, you are directly breaking that “2nd” law, the law of loving others.
Technically, the word translated “speak evil” three times in this verse doesn’t contain the word “evil”, but the idea of “speaking against” (katalaleo) another person.  That’s slander.
Peter uses this word to describe how we are unjustly treated by unbelievers, when they accuse us of bad things even thought we’ve only done good things…

(1 Peter 2:12 NKJV) …they speak against you as evildoers…


(1 Peter 3:16 NKJV) …they defame you as evildoers…

A similar word is used to describe Satan:

(Revelation 12:10b NKJV) …for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.

The word used there is katagoros, “against” + “marketplace”.

It carries the idea of accusing in public, or before a judge.

I want to show you a clip from the movie “42”, about Jackie Robinson.  Throughout the movie you hear incredibly filthy language, things Jackie had to put up with when he broke the color barrier and began to play in the big leagues.
The clip I picked started with a dad calling Jackie filthy names and his son learning to mimic his dad…
Then baseball hero and good ‘ol southern boy PeeWee Reese decides he’s going to be different in how he treats Jackie. 

Video:  42 – Maybe Tomorrow We’ll All Wear 42

When you find yourself speaking bad things about another person, your words give others the idea that God’s law of love isn’t right.
You have family up in the stands.  Be sure to show them just who you are.

:12 There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?

Lawgivernomothetes (“law” + “place”) – a lawgiver

is abledunamai – to be able, have power whether by virtue of one’s own ability and resources, or of a state of mind, or through favorable circumstances, or by permission of law or custom; to be able to do something; to be capable, strong and powerful

tense: present middle participle

to savesozo – to save, keep safe and sound, to rescue from danger or destruction

tense: aorist active infinitive

to destroyapollumi – to destroy; to put out of the way entirely, abolish, put an end to ruin; render useless; to perish, to be lost, ruined, destroyed

tense: aorist active infinitive

:12 one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy


I’m not the executioner

There are times when it’s proper to confront other believers over their bad behavior.
Paul wrote,

(Galatians 6:1 NLT) Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself.

James himself will write,

(James 5:19–20 NLT) —19 My dear brothers and sisters, if someone among you wanders away from the truth and is brought back, 20 you can be sure that whoever brings the sinner back from wandering will save that person from death and bring about the forgiveness of many sins.

We need to be careful that we aren’t acting as judge, jury, and executioner over other believers.
Video:  Pirates of the Caribbean - Guillotine
Being judge and executioner is God’s job.  He’s the “Lawgiver”.  He sentences. He also saves.

When you say to a person, “God damn you”, you are demanding that God send them to hell (“to destroy”).

Don’t say that to another person.  That doesn’t represent God’s law of love.

Paul wrote,

(Romans 14:4 NKJV) Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.

4:13-17 Plans

:13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”;

Come nowago – to lead, take with one

tense: Present active imperative

Todaysemeron – this (very) day); what has happened today

tomorrowaurion – tomorrow

we will go toporeuomai – to pursue the journey on which one has entered, to continue on one’s journey

tense: future middle indicative

buy and sellemporeuomai (“emporium”) – to be in business; to trade

tense: future middle indicative

make a profitkerdaino – to gain, acquire, to get gain

tense: future active indicative

:13 we will go to such and such a city

In Greek there are several ways to talk about the future.

If the writer uses a “subjunctive” mood, then he is stating a possibility, the potential of something happening.
If the writer uses a future tense in the indicative mood, then he is stating with certainty that something will definitely happen, nothing “potential” about it.
James is using the future indicative.

The people James is describing are making a claim that they will definitely go to a certain place, they will definitely be staying for a year, they will definitely be involved in business, and they will definitely be making a profit.

:14 whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.

you do not knowepistamai – to put one’s attention on, fix one’s thoughts on, to turn one’s self or one’s mind to, put one’s thought upon a thing; to be acquainted with, to understand; to know

tense: present passive indicative

for whatpoios – of what sort or nature

lifezoe – life

vaporatmis vapour

little timeoligos – little, small, few; of time: short

appearsphaino – to bring forth into the light, cause to shine, shed light; to become evident, to be brought forth into the light, come to view, appear; to appear, be seen

tense: present passive participle

vanishes awayaphanizo (“not” + “shine”) – to snatch out of sight, to put out of view, to make unseen; to cause to vanish away, to destroy, consume

tense: present passive participle

:14 For what is your life?

When you’re young, you feel like you’ll live forever.

When you get older, you realize how quick life can be over, just like smoke disappearing.

Moses wrote,

(Psalm 90:12 NKJV) So teach us to number our days, That we may gain a heart of wisdom.

David wrote,

(Psalm 39:4 NKJV) Lord, make me to know my end, And what is the measure of my days, That I may know how frail I am.

:15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.”

for thatanti – over against, opposite to, before; for, instead of, in place of (something)

willsthelo – to will, have in mind, intend; to be resolved or determined, to purpose; to desire, to wish; to love; to like to do a thing, be fond of doing; to take delight in, have pleasure.

tense: aorist active subjunctive

As a subjunctive, we could translate this, “If the Lord should will…”

we shall livezao – to live, breathe, be among the living (not lifeless, not dead); to enjoy real life; to live i.e. pass life, in the manner of the living and acting.  Aorist subjunctive.

tense: future active indicative

dopoieo – to make; to do. Aorist subjunctive.

tense: future active indicative

:15 we shall live and do this or that

Both “live” and “do” are future indicative.  They carry a sense of absolute certainty.


Making plans

Is it wrong to make plans?
Not at all.
Some folks use these verses in James and conclude that we shouldn’t be making any plans in life at all.
Jesus talked about the importance of making a careful, thoughtful choice when it comes to following Him.
Our choice ought to be made with careful thought and consideration.
Jesus said,

(Luke 14:28 NKJV) For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it

A farmer putting a watchtower in his field has to plan out whether he can afford it before he starts building.

A wise king makes sure he knows that his enemy is like before he engages in battle.

There are some things in life you will never be able to accomplish without setting goals and careful planning.
A house builder needs plans before he starts pouring foundations and hammering nails.
An athlete who wants to compete in the Olympics doesn’t just dream about it, There needs to be goals, training, direction.
If you desire to be a doctor, you will have to make a lot of plans to finish college, get into medical school, and further your training.
If you want to buy a house, it’s probably not going to fall from the sky.

You will have to figure out a way to scrimp and save for a down payment.  You will need to make sure your income can support a mortgage.

If you are a person who lives from paycheck to paycheck, you will probably never own your own house.

The issue here is not making plans.
The issue is about involving God in your plans.

:15 If the Lord wills

There is no future or subjunctive ideas here.  It’s an actual word translated “to will”.

willsθέλω thelo – to will, have in mind; to be determined; to desire, to wish; to love; to take delight in, have pleasure.

I want to talk about God’s “will” in two ways:


Definite God plans

It’s not wrong to make plans or even to have a degree of certainty about your plans, as long as it is all under the override authority of God’s will.
Solomon wrote,
(Proverbs 19:21 NKJV) There are many plans in a man’s heart, Nevertheless the Lord’s counsel—that will stand.
Though there are some things in life where we aren’t sure of God’s will, there are a number of things we can be certain of – I’ll look at two:
When Paul tells Timothy to make sure that the church is praying for people, he writes,

(1 Timothy 2:3–4 NKJV) —3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

“desires” = thelo

You may be here today and you’ve never made that important commitment to Jesus Christ.

God wants you to be saved.

Perhaps you’ve heard the truth about God’s love for you:

(John 3:16 NKJV) For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Do you know what it means that God “gave” His Son?  It means that Jesus died for us, as Paul wrote,

(1 Corinthians 15:3 NKJV) …that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,

All that’s left is for you to make the choice, to engage your “will” to open your heart to Jesus.

(John 1:12 NLT) But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.

Did you know that it is God’s “will” for you to be saved?  It’s what God “wants”.  It’s what God “desires”.

Let today be the day you open your heart to Jesus.

(1 Thessalonians 4:3 NLT) God’s will is for you to be holy, so stay away from all sexual sin.

This isn’t something you need to wonder about.


Your car was designed to run on a certain type of fuel.

If your car runs on gasoline, don’t be putting diesel in it, or that ethanol stuff.  That will cause you trouble.

Your life will run much better when you learn what it means to stay pure.

Joyful Communion
God wants our relationship with Him to be one continual time of communicating with Him with an attitude of joy and thankfulness.
(1 Thessalonians 5:16–18 NLT) —16 Always be joyful. 17 Never stop praying. 18 Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

How much of your life could be described with words like joy, prayer, and thankfulness?

You don’t have to wonder about these things.  This is what God desires for you.


Indefinite God plans

There are some areas in our life where we are not quite as certain as to what God wants.
It’s in these things that we want to be careful to leave room for God’s will.
How do we do that?

(Proverbs 3:5–6 NKJV) —5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.

Franklin Graham was discipled by the man who originally founded Samaritan’s Purse, a ministry that tries to meet needs of people around the world – those in disasters, wars, orphans, etc.

One of the biggest lessons Bob taught Franklin was about “God Room”. 

The idea is to make sure that when you make your plans, you are leaving room for God to work.

For extra credit, I’ve included a story in the app notes by Franklin Graham about how he learned the concept of leaving God room to work.
Bob Pierce was a wild card, and also the founder of Samaritan’s purse, (then Operation Christmas Child). He was a right hand guy to Billy Graham & was taking Franklin under his wing at this time.  Franklin writes,
From India we went to Kathmandu, Nepal, and Iran. While traveling with Bob, I learned many of life’s lessons. But the lesson Bob taught me that stands out above all else is what Bob called, “God Room.”
“What do you mean?” I asked him once when he started talking about “God room.” He gave me a glance that was close to disgust, almost as if to say, “Don’t you know?” He took a deep breath and sighed before he said,
“‘God room’ is when you see a need and it’s bigger than your human abilities to meet it. But you accept the challenge. You trust God to bring in the finances and the materials to meet that need.
“You get together with your staff, your prayer partners, and supporters, and you pray.  But after all is said and done, you can only raise a portion of the resources required. Then you begin to watch God work. Before you know it, the need is met. At the same time, you understand you didn’t do it. God did it. You allowed Him room to work.”
Bob was on one of his rolls. His eyes sparkled and the words tumbled out: “Many times I went to places like Vietnam, where I’d see people who needed help. I would commit a hundred thousand dollars for the project. Then I’d go home, knowing that Samaritan’s Purse didn’t have the money. I certainly didn’t have the money. But I believed that through praying and trusting God, He would provide.
“You know, Franklin, you always have to have ‘God room’! I stopped him and asked, “Does this always work” I’m not sure I’ve got that kind of faith.”
Again he flashed a look that seemed to say, “Aren’t you listening?” He smiled and said softly, “Listen Buddy, ‘God Room’ is when you have seen a need you believe God wants you to meet. You try, but you can’t. After you’ve exhausted all your human effort, there’s still a gap. No matter what you do, you just can’t humanly bring it about. That’s when you pray and leave God room to work. You watch God close the gap.
“That’s why I keep saying we need always to operate on ‘God room.” He paused and grinned. When you go back to America, Buddy, commit yourself to bigger things than you can humanly do. Then you can watch God work a miracle.”
I finally understood. In some ways I had already seen this principle at work in Mafraq at the hospital when the missionaries there got down on tier knees every Friday to pray for their needs.
But Bob pressed on, wanting to make sure I got exactly what he meant. It seemed extremely important to him that if I didn’t get anything else out for this trip, I would at least understand the “God room” principle.
“You see, Franklin,” Bob continued, “faith isn’t required as long as you set your goal only as high as the most intelligent, most informed, and expert human efforts can reach.”
Bob illustrated what he meant by telling me of a church in the United States that has set a goal to raise one hundred thousand dollars to refurbish the church. The church leaders appealed to the congregation and collected seventy-five thousand. They still needed twenty-five. So what did they do?
“They formed a committee, and members of that committee visited each church member and encouraged them to give more so they could meet their obligation. And they met it. Okay, that’s what human strategy and planning can do. Nothing wrong with that, Buddy, but just don’t call it faith.”
“They reached their goal, didn’t they, Wasn’t that faith?” I asked
Naw that’s just good sense at work. Now, here’s how faith works. He told me about another church, which outgrew it’s building and needed to enlarge. Members pledged two hundred thousand dollars for the expansion.
“About that time, a missionary couple from India came home on furlough and worshipped with the congregation. They told about the hellhole of Calcutta. The people could hardly believe what they heard. The couple never asked for anything, just shared the needs of the homeless, starving children they were trying to care for.
“You know what, Buddy? The board of the church got so involved with that vision, they voted to take the entire two hundred thousand dollars and give it to the missionaries for their work.” (Later on I learned that this church became one of the fastest growing congregations in the United States and completed several building programs.)
“Their giving the money to the missionaries—that was faith.” Then Bob got to his point: “That’s where ‘God room’ comes in.  Nothing is a miracle until it reaches the area where the utmost that human effort can do still isn’t enough. God has to fill that space that room—between what’s possible and what He wants done that’s impossible. That’s what I mean by ‘God Room’.
Bob stood up and faced me. He tapped me on the chest, emphasizing each word with a thump of his index finger: “ You don’t exercise faith until you have promised more than it’s possible to give.”
Bob lived by the “God room” principle, but it caused him many problems. Some people who worked with him from time to time just couldn’t accept it. They wanted everything written in black and white with a five-year plan and detailed budget. Bob just couldn’t work that way.
People like Bob remind me of the words Jesus spoke to Nicodemus: “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8).
Bob was definitely one of those “unpredictable” saints who responded on a moment-to-moment basis to the Spirit of God.
Bob Pierce was a spiritual giant to me. Next to my father, few influenced me and set the course of my life more than my buddy, Bob.
As promised, Bob and I arrived back in the United States just before Christmas. I shared with Jane Austin all I had seen and learned, including all the funny stories about Bob.
Only later did I realize that Bob had a motive for wanting me to go with him on the tour. For some reason Bob saw something of himself in me. What he had in mind would drastically affect my future. Maybe that’s why he spent so much time making certain that I really understood “God room.”
The other day I came across a blog post by young pastor, Chase Replogle, as he wrote about the grand dreams he had while in seminary.
He had drawn up plans for what he thought a good church ought to be about.  Yet after seminary, his ministry plans fell apart.  He ended up getting a full-time secular job and started a small bible study in his in-laws’ basement. 
He kept dreaming of his future mega-church, all the time ignoring the little flock that met every Sunday night, right in front of him.
Then he came across Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s classic book Life Together.
Pastor Chase goes on to write,

I’m not sure what motivated me to pick it up. Maybe it was its deceptively small size. Whatever my reason for starting the book, I was entirely unprepared for four words on page 27: “God hates visionary dreaming.”

Bonhoeffer continued,

It makes the dreamer proud and pretentious. The man who fashions a visionary ideal of community demands that it be realized by God, by others, and by himself. He enters the community of Christians with his demands, sets up his own law, and judges the brethren and God himself accordingly. He stands adamant, a living reproach to all others in the circle of brethren. He acts as if he is the creator of the Christian community, as if his dream binds men together. When things do not go his way, he calls the effort a failure. When his ideal picture is destroyed, he sees the community going to smash. So he becomes, first an accuser of his brethren, then an accuser of God, and finally the despairing accuser of himself.

This young pastor is now seven years into leading this same group, now grown to about 60 people.  He has realized that he has the church God had for him all along.

Make your plans, but leave room for God to do things the way He wants.

:16 But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.

you boastkauchaomai – to glory (whether with reason or without); to glory on account of a thing; to glory in a thing

tense: present middle indicative

arrogancealazoneia – empty, braggart talk; an insolent and empty assurance, which trusts in its own power and resources and shamefully despises and violates divine laws and human rights; an impious and empty presumption which trusts in the stability of earthy things

boastingkauchesis – the act of glorying

evilponeros – full of labours, annoyances, hardships; bad, of a bad nature or condition; in an ethical sense: evil wicked, bad

:16 you boast in your arrogance

Arrogant boasting is nothing but trouble.


Two moose hunters from Texas are flown into a remote lake in Alaska. They have a good hunt, and both manage to get a large moose. When the plane returns to pick them up, the pilot looks at the animals and says, “This little plane won’t lift all of us, the equipment, and both of those animals. You’ll have to leave one. We’d never make it over the trees on the take off.”   “That’s baloney”, says one of the hunters.   “Yeah,” the other agrees, “you’re just chicken: we came out here last year and got two moose and that pilot had some guts: He wasn’t afraid to take off!”   “Yeah”, said the first hunter, “and his plane wasn’t any bigger than yours!”  The pilot got angry, and said, “If he did it, then I can do it. I can fly as well as anybody!” They loaded up, taxied at full throttle, and the plane almost made it, but didn’t have the lift to clear the trees at the end of the lake. It clipped the tops, then flipped, then broke up, scattering the baggage, animal carcasses, and passengers all through the brush.  Still alive, but hurt and dazed, the pilot sat up, shook his head to clear it, and said, “Where are we?”   One of the hunters rolled out from being thrown into a bush, looked around, and said, “I’d say about a hundred yards further than last year.”

:17 Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.

knowseido – to see; to know; to know, i.e. get knowledge of, understand, perceive

tense: perfect active participle

goodkalos – beautiful, handsome, excellent, eminent, choice, surpassing, precious, useful, suitable, commendable, admirable

sinhamartia – to miss the mark; to err, be mistaken; to wander from the law of God, violate God’s law, sin; that which is done wrong, sin, an offence, a violation of the divine law in thought or in act

:17 to him who knows to do good

We usually think of sin as doing some particularly evil thing, or “sins of commission”.

Some people live their whole lives in fear of crossing a line or breaking God’s law.

Here the concern isn’t what we’ve done that’s bad, but that we don’t do the things that are good.


Sins of omission

Solomon wrote,
(Proverbs 3:27 NKJV) Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, When it is in the power of your hand to do so.
I’m not sure James talking about not doing the things in the previous few verses.
I think he’s summarizing all that he’s been telling us.
Being impartial towards others (2:1)
Faith demonstrated by good works (2:18)
Using words to bless, not curse (3:10)
Drawing near to God (4:8)
Humility (4:10)
When we know to do these things and we neglect to do them, it’s “sin” to us.
As we’ve been making our way through James, is there something you’ve neglected to do?

[1] Eusebius of Caesaria. (1890). The Church History of Eusebius. In P. Schaff & H. Wace (Eds.), A. C. McGiffert (Trans.), Eusebius: Church History, Life of Constantine the Great, and Oration in Praise of Constantine (Vol. 1, p. 125). New York: Christian Literature Company.