6/7 Honest Assessment James 5:1-12
This week’s message is titled Honest Assessment. That’s like grading our own test paper. How honest will we be? Basing that on this week’s scripture passage continuing in the Book of James we turn to Chapter 5 which is titled Warning to the Rich. It talks about our self-indulgences. Need we do an honest assessment on this, self-indulgences? They are all good right? Or at least good for me. Sunday’s sermon posed the question, Have I allowed what I have to rot me regardless of the cost to indulge? Take a moment to give that question an honest assessment. Then we change our focus beginning in verse 7 titled Patience in Suffering. It’s in our suffering that we question the why? We seek answers, we want to point blame, we even get angry with God and yes, we do lose patience These two parallel each other. Self- indulgence making me happy versus suffering through something causing me hurt or causing another’s hurt. Would they or could they ever intersect? So, giving an Honest Assessment, how are you handling both of these? In assessing we ponder – reflect on things – what’s really happening here? What are my feelings telling me? What motive drives me? What am I hearing, who or where do I get my information so that I can learn, think, and grow in understanding? Or do I even try?
This past week we’ve read and heard much about Black Lives Matter, the protesting, and rioting occurring and the death and destruction that follows. This is the current cultural issue going on. Pretty upsetting to hear. So, in an honest assessment what’s upsetting you about issues such as this? Can you name it? This week we’ve had several RNM videos to watch dealing with the issue of racism in our culture and more importantly in our churches. As Pastor George stated on Sunday that during his Pastoral studies a topic often discussed was the ’Bible versus the Newspaper’, how do we reconcile the two of these?
In the RNM video series The Color of Compromise by Jemar Tisby, he referred to a definition of racism stating that racism is a prejudice plus power; or another way in defining it is as a system of oppression based on race. We’ve only begun to watch this series. It has much history tied to its content. In Oneness Embraced by Tony Evans, he states that the goal of racial unity is Oneness. Oneness of purpose without denying a persons created identity. Dennis and Colleen Rouse in their series titled ONE, calls for a maturity beyond natural identity to a spiritual identity. Oneness in Christ. There is a racial divide, the challenge is to reconcile to other cultures and to one another. Colleen says it’s going to take intentionality – trying to evoke the change necessary in becoming one in Jesus name. Christianity and the Church- and being complacent versus courageous in dealing with our prejudices. It’s forcing us to own our own junk, to do an honest assessment. How is the church shown through me? Working towards reconciliation is not something to achieve but to receive, says Dennis Rouse. It’s a change in our mindset, in our hearts. He says that if you work the Word of God, the Word of God will work. God sees all people as one. He does not see race or color; God sees our heart. He calls us to love our neighbor as we do our-self. Recalling our study from James 2, ‘A Warning against Prejudice’, verse 8 says “Yes indeed, it is good when you obey the royal law as found in the Scriptures: “Love your neighbor as yourself”. Another passage referred to in the series One was from 1 Corinthians 13:13 (NLT) “Three things will last forever, Faith – Hope –Love, and the greatest of these is Love”. Love is a verb, it’s an action. The action of love prompts a response. When we’re faced with issues such as racism, are we reacting out of fear (a feeling) or responding through Truth and love?
Tony Evans says that the church needs to get more involved in the culture. The enemy loves to keep us at odds, divided with one another. The overriding conflict is fear. Perfect love casts out all fear. Needed are uncomfortable conversations, starting in the church. The church needs to be a visual demonstration of a comprehensive rule of God over every area of life. The solution to our problems comes out of God’s house, the Church. We need to have those difficult conversations. Take it out to your circle of influence, break free from perceived ideas and allow God to move our hearts. Tony says Justice is the equitable and impartial application of God’s moral laws in society. We the church need to be courageous in justice for all. Setting examples. Exemplifying Love in all we do. Loving others as they are. Standing firm in our faith and what it teaches us. As Pastor George states we are to live and love the way God wants us to live and love, following His example. In doing our Honest Assessment we are to remove what’s not good and to do what’s right in God’s eye. This could take some time, it’s never too late to start, and is starts with an honest assessment.
Larry & Darlene