I’m reading through the New Testament again this year with many of my friends from church. It’s an intentional reading, called The New Testament: As It Was Written. This means that we’re reading the books and letters of the New Testament in the approximate order they were written, not in the order events unfolded.
As I read, I’ll journal my thoughts and observations at Manly Meditations and as a blog post for each book and letter I’ve read (and reread). It starts today, from James:
50 A.D. – James
Ch. 1 – We are encouraged to remain steadfast under trial. Your desire should be God’s desire. DO, as the active reflection of God that you are. We are His image and glory (I Cor. 11:7). Ask yourself, “Would you rather have the marks of Jesus or the marks of the world?” Then keep yourself unstained by the world.
Ch. 2 – Show no partiality. This happened to be the prayer of the young man Elihu when he talked with Job (Job 32:21). It’s a matter of faith in Christ and holding on to it. Showing partiality is sin.
Abraham’s faith and actions resulted in his salvation, the saving of his son, and the saving of all men (in Christ). Likewise, and yet in contrast, Rahab’s faith and actions resulted in her salvation, the saving of the sons of Israel, and of all men (in Christ). Faith in Christ saves the good, bad, and ugly – and their actions show it.
Ch. 3 – Be the man of faith (I Cor. 16:13-14). It’s all you can and must be. Guard yourself against jealousy and selfish ambition. Make peace and reap righteousness.
Ch. 4 -Again, stand firm and act like a man of God (I Cor. 16:13-14).
What you do: Resist the devil and humble yourself before God.
What Satan does: He will run away.
What God does: He will lift you up.
Ch. 5 – James speaks of Job. And as he often does in his letter, he brings up the matters of showing partiality, judging others, and flattery. Look again at Elihu’s prayer in Job 32:21. He’s on to something here in his prayer life.
Confess sin – and weakness – to one another and pray for one another. Lean on each other as Godly men. This presupposes that real, Godly men will respond with mercy, compassion, gentleness, honesty, brotherly love, and humility. They will not show partiality, they will not judge or shame, and they will not speak flattering, false words. These three things James and Elihu seem to have in common. For men, I think that James drives the points home.