Fight the Good Fight in Community

Fighting Men

Sin is something we don’t like to talk about. Something we would rather keep hidden. It is certainly not something we want to tell others about. James, however, tells us we should tell others about our sin. He writes,

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working (James 5:16).

James exhorts us to confess our sins to one another, so that others might pray for us. Do you confess your sins to others? Do you ask others to pray God would remove sin in your life? If you don’t, I would encourage you to find someone you can trust, confess your sins, and ask them to pray for you. Don’t try to fight temptation and sin by yourself. Don’t be a Lone Ranger Christian. Fight the good fight in community!

Why Can We Confess Sin to Others?

Often confessing sin to others is hindered by what we believe others will think about us. We don’t want to appear like we don’t have it all together. We are afraid others will look down on us, if we confess our sin.

Christians shouldn’t think that way. The gospel should encourage us to confess our sins to others because it tells us we are not accepted based on our works, or what others think about us. We are accepted based on Jesus’ work for us. Concern for what others think shouldn’t dissuade us then from confessing sin. What others think doesn’t matter because our acceptance is not based on what others think.

Question for Reflection

  1. Do you confess your sins to others so they can pray for you?
  2. Are you worried about what others might think of you?

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How To Avoid Conflict In The Church | Part 4

How To Avoid Conflict Part 4

How Do We Avoid Conflict?

(4) Don’t speak evil against one another.

James says,

“Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?” (Jas 4:11–12)

Speaking evil against another is harmful speech. Harmful speech could be anything from: Questioning legitimate authority, to slandering someone in secret, to bringing false accusations against them.

Conflict arises when we want recognition from others but someone else stands in our way. Our flesh tells us to remove the obstacle by criticizing and judging others.

Politicians are a great example. Debates, TV ads, and bill boards are all designed to defame their opponents and gain an advantage. From a worldly perspective it seems to work, but the result is conflict, which is what we want to avoid.

To keep conflict out of a community, we have to watch what we say. Harmful speech doesn’t build others up, it only tears them down, creating tension between you and them.

How do we keep ourselves from speaking evil against another?

James’ tactic is to expose what evil speech and judging another actually does. He tells us speaking evil against, or judging another, means we speak evil against and judge the Law of God.

As if that is not bad enough, he takes it a step further, telling us we also take God’s right to judge away from Him. As our Creator, He has the right to judge us. We don’t have the right to judge another. When we act as judge, we infringe on God’s right.

What does James mean by judging another and the Law? 

For James, judging others holds the idea of criticizing another with slanderous remarks, or pronouncing their damnation when we have no basis to do so.

We speak evil against or judge the Law when we slander or judge others because the Law demands we love our neighbors.

In other words, we observe what the Law says, – love your brother – think through it, and decide it is not worth following. When we do that, we are essentially saying the Law’s command is wrong, and is not worth anything.

Conclusion

Conflict occurs in a sinful world. It doesn’t have to occur in our churches though. James provides the necessary tools to keep conflict at bay. He tells us:

If you want to avoid conflict, take James’ ideas and apply them to your life.

Question for Reflection

  1. How is your speech?

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How To Avoid Conflict In The Church | Part 3

How To Avoid Conflict Part 3

How Do We Avoid Conflict?

(3) Be a peacemaker by striving to be pure.

Those who are pure live opposite worldly wisdom. They live according to God’s Word: Peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.

James says, 

But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” (Jas 3:17–18)

The peaceable person avoids arguments or violent conflict. While those who are gentle are not harsh, but careful with others feelings. 

Those open to reason don’t live by the motto “My way or the highway.” Instead they are willing to sit down and discuss with others, even yielding their will at times when a moral or unalterable theological principle is not involved.

While those full of mercy and good fruits don’t hold sins against another. They are forgiving. They have love for their neighbor and are generous in giving to others in need. 

The impartial do not show partiality to one group over the other. While the sincere are not double-minded, but free from hypocrisy or playing a part, as well as they don’t hold to a double standard.

Summary

The pure are peacemakers, sowing peace in a community instead of conflict. So if you want peace, be a peacemaker instead of a peace breaker.

Looking Forward

The next post in this series suggests we can avoid conflict by not speaking evil against one another.

Question for Reflection

  1. Are you a peacemaker?

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