A Community of Justice (Part 2) – Gospel in Life

A Community of Justice (Part 2)

Tim Keller |  January 17, 2010

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  • Stewardship, Generosity and Money
James 4:13-5:6
RS 317-07


We’re looking at the book of James, which is a book that asks and answers this question: If you really believed the gospel of Jesus, if you really believed what Jesus said he came to do, what would that mean for the way in which you live your life every day? What does that look like on the ground? What practically does that look like?

Every single week, we’re looking at another part of the book of James, in which he’s showing us how belief in the gospel affects the way we actually live day to day. James is contrasting God’s wisdom with the world’s wisdom or with what the Bible calls foolishness.

Let’s look at it under four headings. What he’s telling us here is about 1) a problem we have, 2) the reasons it is a problem, 3) the thing that can make the problem worse, and 4) the thing that can make the problem better or solve it.

James 4:13–5:6

Reading the book of James, we see how deeply our faith affects our everyday behavior. James presents us with two important corrections, pointing out the big difference between God’s wisdom and the foolish thinking of the world. The Bible describes this foolishness as a harmful ignorance of reality leading to bad decisions. James helps us understand this issue, its reasons, how it gets worse, and how we can solve it.

1. The problem

James calls out the pride and bragging that often come with making plans. He calls this the “life-control illusion” – the false idea that we can shape our future through our own actions. This thinking isn’t in line with reality, as many things outside our control can affect the outcome. James warns us that sticking to this illusion can lead us to make damaging life choices.

2. The reason for the problem

Believing we can control life is a problem because it wrongly assumes we can foresee and control the future, which can make us overconfident and worried. This thinking forgets the truth that God is in control of everything that happens, even while we’re responsible for our own choices and their results. Being wise in life means recognizing the importance of our decisions, but also knowing that God is ultimately in control.

3. What makes the problem worse?

Thinking that we can control our lives through our plans and hard work can lead us into a harmful mindset, which is quite different from understanding that all good things are gifts from God. How we handle money, whether we’re generous or selfish, shows what we truly believe. This illusion of control can make us prideful and foolish, blinding us to the fact that our successes are gifts from God, and possibly leading us to terrible consequences.

4. What makes the problem better?

Life is short and fleeting, like a mist that appears for a moment and then vanishes. The enduring value is found in the eternal life that Jesus gave his followers after he rose from the dead, which keeps renewing our inner self. Jesus’ example of giving up control on the cross reminds us that everything is under God’s control, helping us to live with peace, humility, and wisdom.



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