James 3:17 – 18
“Mark of Christian Maturity”
I. What peace does TO a person
A. It changes the way you relate to the world.
Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” [John 14:27]
1. “Troubled heart” – easily angered, worried, up set
2. “Afraid” – (Gr. = “cowardly” or “timid”)
Paraphrase – “do not be a whimp.”
3. Jesus is not offering advice – He is issuing a command.
a. These are choices we make to be like this:
1.) Not personality.
2.) Not genetics.
3.) Not mental health.
***** The choice to be troubled in heart and afraid, violates God’s commands – we can understand them as sin. *****
B. It changes the way you understand results:
1. James called it a “harvest.” (KJV = “fruit”)
a. It requires patience and time.
b. It is not a quick fix.
2. A “harvest” involves risk.
a. After we do what we have to do, we have to trust God.
b. That means, “hands off.”
***** “Helping God” always backfires because God can do anything and everything much better than we can. *****
C. It forces you to live up to your success.
1. A “peacemaker” is a reputation... reputations are expectations.
2. The higher the expectation the more responsibility is give.
***** Most of us have figured out that means higher visibility, more work, more criticism, and have decided in advance to “run away.” *****
a. We have an equation:
1.) How big is the carrot?
2.) How heavy is the load?
1. Peace makes a person choose between trusting God or living with a troubled and timid heart.
2. Peace allows the person to allow God to work.
3. Peace gives the freedom to do what God wants done, instead of living with the guild of not being faithful.
II. What peace does FOR a person.
A. Peace simplifies your life.
1. Only one factor matters – God.
The Bible says, “You [God] will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you [God].” [Isaiah 26:3]
(Ill.) Little baby cries – then is held – likes being held – eyes lock on to Mom or Dad. COMFORT IN TRUST!
2. God gives us peace as we lock our eyes, minds, and hearts on God.
The Bible says, “And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes--I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” [Job 19:26 – 27]
B. Peace assures us that someone cares.
The Bible says, “Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.” [Psalm 5:22]
1. Notice it says “He will sustain you” NOT He will take the cares away.
2. (Ill) Foot prints poem.
C. Peace gives life to the body.
The Bible says, “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.” [Proverbs 14:30]
1. Peace gives us a life uncomplicated by ourselves. Instead of focusing on ourselves we focus on God.
2. God cares. He will not (can not) stop loving us. That gives us confidence that leads to peace.
3. Peace produces the effect that we call “life” as opposed to “existing.”
III. What peace does WITH a person.
A. Peace extends to others.
1. “Misery loves company.” “If momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.”
2. People who believe in something share it with others.
(Ill.) People who bought Saturn cars: were given shirts (that they wore), talked about the great stake dinner and birthday cards... are they insane or just excited about the car (and their connection with the car and other owners)?
The Bible explains it this way, “For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.” and “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.” [2 Corinthians 5:14, 18]
B. Peace produces righteousness.
1. There are two kinds of legitimate “righteousness” in Scripture.
a. There is legal standing – judgement given by God, not our effort.
b. There is life style – natural product of the grace (legal standing) of God.
2. James is talking about the life style... sow then harvest.
3. Righteous or sinful living is generally the result of the foundation you are building on.
a. “Pieces and parts” spiritual life – take what we like, reject what we do not like.
b. “crisis control” spiritual life – survival from one crisis to another.
c. “scholarly” spiritual life – always learning never doing/understanding.
d. “den of thieves” spiritual life – use it to cover up our sin.
e. “doctor” spiritual life – we want God to patch us up so we can sin some more.
B. Peace is the foundation to a stable life.
1. Total view
a. One part effects the other parts (e.g. ever stub your toe?)
b. You cannot feed the cravings of the flesh without squelching the Spirit of God.
2. What happens is we build with gaps in the foundation.
a. Imaging pulling a block or two from the foundation of a house...
b. The building collapses – we run out of emotional energy, we quit.
c. we give up because we are limited.
3. It is easy to focus on what we see and never deal with attitude.
a. We don’t want to...
b. It tinkers with who we are...
c. It is a constant battle with our sinful nature...