Quoting the Bible, Netanyahu says Israel must “choose life” in “historic” conflicts with Iran & Palestinians. Day Three report from AIPAC conference.

The PM brought the house down amidst 14,000 pro-Israel activists.

The PM brought the house down amidst 14,000 pro-Israel activists.

(Washington, D.C.) — Let’s put it this way: if Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided to jump into the 2016 presidential race, I suspect he would be far and away the front-runner for both the GOP and Democrat nominations.

He has enormous bipartisan support at the grassroots, and overwhelming support on Capitol Hill.

I lost count of how many standing ovations Netanyahu received from the 14,000 pro-Israel activists gathered here for the 2014 AIPAC conference.

It was a far warmer reception than he received from President Obama at the White House on Monday.

His themes were large and consequential.

The Prime Minister:

  • Urged the administration to intensify, not relax, pressure on Iran to give up its bid for nuclear weapons. 
  • Said he was ready to make an “historic peace” with the Palestinians, and urged Mahmoud Abbas to recognize Israel as a “Jewish state” once and for all — “No excuses. No delays. It’s time.”
  • Quoted from the Bible, specifically from Deuteronomy chapter 30, saying, “My friends, on behalf of the people of Israel, I bring you message from Jerusalem, the cradle of our common civilization, the crucible of our shared values. It’s a message from the Bible. (In Hebrew.)  ‘I have put before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life so that you and your offspring may live.’ Ladies and gentlemen, my friends, never forget — America and Israel stand for life. We stand together on the right side of the moral divide. We stand together on the right side of history.”

It is so interesting to hear an Israeli Prime Minister quote from the Bible. You might think it would be normal, but it’s not. So few Israeli leaders cite Scriptures, at least in English speeches or translations that I hear or read.

How will the speech be received by the President? That remains to be seen. The Palestinian leadership is already denouncing the speech. (see below).

I urge you to read or watch the full speech, as well as the transcripts of what he and the President said at the White House yesterday:

Here’s the latest coverage of the PM’s AIPAC speech:

Here are the Tweets I sent (or re-Tweeted) out as the PM was speaking:

  • It’s wonderful to see so many evangelical Christians attending #aipac2014. Now is the time for us to be standing humbly w/our Jewish friends
  • @IsraeliPM Netanyahu brings greetings from Jerusalem, “eternal undivided capital if the Jewish people” 4th standing O
  • Netanyahu says – “Israel is humane.  Israel is compassionate.  Israel is a force for good.” (Shannon Bream, Fox News)
  • PM Netanyahu: Israel has treated nearly 1,000 wounded Syrians. #AIPAC14 (Embassy of Israel)
  • Netanyahu: Nasrallah says Hezbollah loves death & Israel loves life & that’s why Hezbollah will win. #aipac2014
  • Netanyahu: Nasrallah right about 1st part. Hezbollah glorifies death. Israel does sanctify life. But “dead wrong” on 2nd part
  • @IsraeliPM Netanyahu: more pressure needed on Iran to get the right deal. More pressure makes war less likely, not more likely.
  • @IsraeliPM Netanyahu: 17 countries have peaceful civilian nuclear power, but they don’t enrich their uranium. Why does Iran?
  • @IsraeliPM Netanyahu: Wants the negotiations with Iran to succeed. Peace better than war. But vows to do all needed to protect Israel.
  • @IsraeliPM Netanyahu: I am prepared to make an historic peace with the Palestinians.
  • @IsraeliPM Netanyahu: calls on Abbas to recognize Israel as the Jewish State. “No excuses. No delays. It’s time.”
  • @IsraeliPM Netanyahu: can’t “gamble” Israel’s security on foreign military forces. Too often, peacekeepers leave under fire. #aipac2014
  • Netanyahu says “as we work in the coming days and the coming weeks on forging a lasting peace” Wonder if that wording is significant (Chemi Shalev, Haaretz)
  • @IsraeliPM Netanyahu: says BDS movement (to Boycott, Divest from and Sanction Israel) will fail. Morally wrong. #aipac2014
  • @IsraeliPM Netanyahu: the BDS movement is not about legitimate criticism. It’s about delegitimizing Israel. #aipac2014
  • @IsraeliPM Netanyahu: throughout Mideast Christians fleeing for their lives, but BDS fights Israel, which protects Christians. #aipac2014
  • .@Netanyahu: the boycott Israel crowd doesn’t seek 2 states for 2 peoples – they seek destruction of Israel. #fact (Josh Block)
  • Another Bibi zinger: “How could anyone fall for the BS in BDS” #AIPAC14 (Chemi Shalev)
  • Good line. Netanyahu: Israel is boisterous democracy,everyone has opinion and states it.  In Israel, self-criticism is on steroids. (Herb Keinon, Jerusalem Post)
  • I’ve completely lost track of the number of standing ovations for @IsraeliPM Netanyahu. #aipac2014
  • @IsraeliPM Netanyahu: closes quoting from the Bible, “I have put before you a choice between life and death. Choose life.” #aipac2014

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Joel C. Rosenberg’s Blog

More people read Facebook daily than the Bible. How about you?

(Washington, D.C.) — “More Americans check Facebook daily than read the Bible and it has more monthly users worldwide than most continents have people,” reports AP.

How about you? Social media can be fun and fascinating. But as 2014 begins, how much time are you investing in reading the Word of God and building a personal relationship with Jesus Christ?

  • “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.” (Psalm 1:1-3)
  • “Now these [Bereans] were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.” (Acts 17:11)
  • “You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:14-17)

Excerpts from the article:

  • Facebook, which celebrates its 10th anniversary Tuesday, says worldwide it has 757 million daily active users. Of those 19 percent are in the U.S. and Canada, so that’s more than 143 million people checking Facebook daily.
  • The Bible used to be the go-to for statistics about reading, pre-digital age. A 2006 CBS News poll found 15 percent of U.S. adults read the Bible or other religious texts daily. There are about 267 million adults in the U.S. and Canada. That means about 40 million people reading the Bible daily.
  • And then there are monthly users — Facebook claims 1.23 billion of them. That’s more people than live in any country but China. In fact, Facebook is beyond comparing to nations and is more continental in magnitude. Facebook’s monthly user population is larger than six of the seven continents, only behind Asia.
  • Facebook’s monthly user total is about the population of all of North America and Europe combined.

>> The Joshua Fund’s 2013 Epicenter Conference focused on the importance of reading, studying and teaching the Bible and “The Power of the Word.” For more details, or to watch videos of each message at the conference, please click here.


Joel C. Rosenberg’s Blog

Netanyahu calls Israel “epicenter” of innovation at World Economic Forum in Davos. Cites Bible as a reason for Israel’s strength.

netanyahu-DavosSo often there are war or rumors of wars to report from the Middle East. But this week Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a fascinating speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. It was chock full of good news.

You can read it here, or watch it here.

Several elements caught my attention.

  • One: Netanyahu said “Israel is the epicenter of world innovation right now.”
  • Two: The Prime Minister cited the Bible as one of the reason’s for the strength of the Jewish people and the Israeli economy.
  • Three: He gave interesting examples of Israeli innovation — including how scarce water resources has inspired Israelis to develop the world’s most advance technologies for re-using water, and how scarce agricultural land has inspired Israelis to learn how to get more milk out of every cow (“Whose cows produce the most milk? Don’t guess: it’s Israel. It’s a computerized cow. Every ‘moo’ is computerized and we increased the productivity.”)

I encourage you to read or watch it for yourself.

Excerpts from a Jerusalem Post story about the speech:

  • Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Thursday at the Davos World Economic Forum that investing in the Israeli economy is a way to facilitate peace in the region.
  • In a speech that largely focused on the strength of Israel as a hub for innovation, as well as research and development, Netanyahu said that the advancement of the Israeli economy would help Israel’s Arab neighbors, specifically the Palestinians.
  • The prime minister stated that “Israel is not what’s wrong in the Middle East, it is what’s right with the Middle East.”….
  • The premier used his remarks to praise his country’s economic prowess, which he credited to “the indispensable element of entrepreneurship” as well as “sound macroeconomic policies.”
  • “Israel is often called the ‘start-up nation,’ but I call it the ‘innovation nation,’” Netanyahu said.
  • The premier touted an economic policy of “cutting taxes and removing barriers to competition so that the private sector could run forward and compete.”
  • Netanyahu said that in the ten years since he took over as finance minister during the administration of Ariel Sharon, Israel managed to bring down the debt-to-GDP ratio to 67 percent while reducing inflation and cutting down unemployment.
  • The premier said that Israel’s small size and the Jewish culture of “asking questions” has contributed to the country’s strong economic performance.
  • “From the Talmud to Einstein, Jewish people were always asking questions,” the prime minister said. “The questioning mind is something in our culture and adds very much to our capacities. We’re very small, everything is close by, and everyone competes and collaborates with each other.”
  • “This is an invitation to innovation nation, it’s open for business, it’s open for your business, please come join us,” he stated.


Joel C. Rosenberg’s Blog

Is the Bible making a comeback? Hollywood blockbusters about Jesus, Noah and Moses set to release in 2014.

religion-comebackIs Hollywood rediscovering the greatest story ever told?

In a year in which The History Channel’s “The Bible” was the most-watched miniseries on cable TV; the Pope was Time magazine’s “Person of the Year”; Bill O’Reilly’s book, Killing Jesus, is a New York Times best-seller; and the faith of Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson is the talk of the country, perhaps it’s not surprising that major motion picture studios are preparing to release Biblical blockbusters in 2014 about Jesus, Noah, and Moses, to name just a few.

When I took my family to the movies this week, I was intrigued to see trailers for three faith-based films, each one of which was genuinely intriguing in their own way:

  • Son of God will release just before Easter and will re-tell the story of the birth, life, ministry death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. [click on link to see trailer]
  • Noah is a $ 125 million extravaganza starring Russell Crowe, Anthony Hopkins and Jennifer Connelly about the catastrophic judgment of mankind recorded in the Book of Genesis and one man and his family who are saved. It releases March 28th. [click on link to see trailer]
  • Heaven Is For Real will release on April 16th, based on the New York Times best-selling non-fiction book about a boy who dies, but after being brought back to life by a team of doctors tells his family that he went to heaven while he was dead and describes what he saw in vivid detail. [click on link to see trailer]

I can’t vouch for the theology of each of these films based solely on the trailers. But I can say their production values are top notch and just seeing these sneak previews (especially amidst trailers for other soon-coming films that are violence- and sex-ridden trash) was both surprising and encouraging. It got our family talking about this intriguing moment in which so much of our culture seems vehemently opposed to Biblical faith, yet man other Americans seem truly curious, and at times even hungry, to know if the Bible has answers to life’s deepest and most important questions.

This was also the topic the other day on the Fox News program, “The Five.” They had an engaging and lively discussion about this question, “Is religion making a comeback in American culture?” They talked about the films that are coming out, but also about their own personal views of the culture and the curiosity and hostility towards Christianity and the Bible. The segment lasted about 12 minutes. I’d encourage you to watch it and discuss it with family and friends. Bob Beckel’s comments were particularly intriguing.

Finally (for now), I read this article in the Telegraph giving the inside scoop on a slew of Bible-based films in production or about to be released. Here are some excerpts, but I commend the entire article it to your attention.

Biblical films’ Hollywood comeback

Superheroes are being elbowed out by Noah and Mary as Hollywood makes 2014 year of the biblical epic

By Nick Allen, The [UK] Telegraph, December 25, 2013

 

  • The saint-like image of a hooded woman looms out from the movie poster, her arms outstretched as a divine light bursts from the sky. A message written above is simple and unambiguous: “You Will Believe.” So goes the promotional campaign for the forthcoming Hollywood blockbuster Mary Mother of Christ….whose title character will be played by Odeya Rush, a 16-year-old Israeli-born actress, is one of a series of unashamedly Christian biblical epics due to appear next year, marking an unprecedented overture by Hollywood to America’s evangelical heartland. 
  • In March audiences will be treated to Noah, a $ 150 million special effects-laden extravaganza, in which Russell Crowe will build an ark and rescue mankind from the Great Flood. Harry Potter actress Emma Watson will play his adopted daughter, and Sir Anthony Hopkins is portraying Methuselah. The ark was built on Long Island, New York. 
  • Noah will be followed by Sir Ridley Scott’s Exodus, in which Christian Bale,   as Moses, will part the Red Sea. Scenes from ancient Egypt have been   reconstructed in southern Spain, with Bale wielding a bow and arrow and   Sigourney Weaver playing the Pharaoh’s wife.
  • Another movie of Moses’s life called Gods and Kings is also planned. Steven Spielberg was due to make it but has been replaced by Ang Lee, who won the Best Director Oscar this year for Life of Pi.
  • Meanwhile, Son of God will tell the story of Jesus’s life, with Portuguese actor Diogo Morgado in the lead role.
  • Will Smith is said to be planning a film based on the story of Cain and Abel.
  • Brad Pitt is rumoured to be playing Pontius Pilate in a eparate project.
  • There will also be Resurrection, in which a Roman soldier is sent to investigate Christ’s death. It has been likened to “Gladiator, with a mystery bent.”

Phil Cooke, a film-maker and media consultant to Christian organisations, said Hollywood’s epiphany had financial, not spiritual, origins.

“What’s happened is they’ve understood it’s very good business to take Christians seriously, and this is a real serious market,” he said. “For years Hollywood bent over backwards to reach special interest groups, be it feminists or environmentalists. It has finally realised that there are 91 million evangelical Christians in America.”

For their part, studio executives have taken something of a leap of faith that films in which religious figures save the world will bring big box office   receipts. 

That faith is based in no small part on the success of The Bible, a television mini-series shown on the History channel earlier this year, which averaged 11.4 million viewers and became America’s most watched cable show of 2013….

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Joel C. Rosenberg’s Blog

What a joy to preach the Word in the Land of the Bible. Notes from the Book of James — Part 2

The people of the Middle East desperately need peace. The Bible makes it crystal clear that man can find true and lasting peace — “peace that passes all comprehension” — only when they know the Lord and the power of His Word. Thus, it is vitally important to teach the Bible, and to encourage and refresh pastors in the region as they study the Bible for themselves and teach the Word to others.

Thus, as I noted yesterday, The Joshua Fund team held a retreat for pastors and ministry leaders and their wives here in the epicenter this week called, “Preach The Word/Shepherd The Flock.” We gathered in the city of Netanya with leaders from Russian backgrounds and Ethiopian backgrounds, various European backgrounds, native Israelis, Arabs, as well as some evangelical Christians from the West.

It was a special time of encouraging, worshipping with, and praying with and for these dear saints who face many trials and tribulations. By God’s grace, we were able to bring along several solid pastors from the U.S. Together we have been teaching through the Book of James, verse by verse, chapter by chapter.

I taught on James chapter three at the retreat. Here is a link to the first part of my notes.  

Today, I am posting the rest of my notes from James chapter three. I hope you find them helpful. God bless you.

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James 3:2 – “For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well.

  • James reminds us that:
  • we are all sinners
  • we all like sheep have gone astray
  • we all stumble
  • we all stumble in many ways
  • one of the many ways we all stumble is in saying things we shouldn’t, when we shouldn’t, in a tone we shouldn’t

James is picking up on a critically important theme of which Jesus spoke.

  • Matthew 12:33-37 – “[A] tree is known by its fruit. 34 Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. 36 But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. 37 For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
  • Luke 12:1-3 – “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. But there is nothing covered up that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known. Accordingly, whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in the inner rooms will be proclaimed upon the housetops.”

 Again and again, Jesus warns us to be careful with goes into our hearts, and what comes out of our mouths, and He warns us not be hypocrites like the Pharisees.

  • “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” – A man speaks what is in his heart. It has been said that the tongue has been “the tattletale of the heart.” This is true.
  • “Every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment” – The Lord is listening to every word we speak. He remembers every word we speak, and we will give an account.
  • “Whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light.” – Be extremely careful what you say and what you do. Don’t be a hypocrite. Nothing stays secret. Live as though everything you say and do will be on the front page of the Jerusalem Post

One of the most damaging and painful areas we all stumble in is in misusing our tongues. 

  • Teachers are not exempt.
  • Just because a person is appointed by God to be a teacher doesn’t mean he has truly learned how to communicate in a godly, Spirit-filled way.
  • Teachers are as susceptible as anyone else to the sin of misusing the tongue – and we will be judged more strictly because we ought to know better.

James notes that a perfect man would always be perfectly careful with his speech, and a perfect man was: the Lord Jesus Christ.

  •  John 12:49 – Jesus said, “I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it.” (NIV 84)
  • Jesus is our model:
  • We are to seek the Father earnestly and consistently not simply to tell us but to command us “what to say.”
  • The Father commanded Christ precisely what to say in all circumstances, and Christ obeyed precisely — this emphasizes substance, sound doctrine.
  • But the Father did not limit Himself to commanding Christ “what to say.” He also commanded His Son “how to say it.”
  • Not just substance but style.
  • Not just truth but tone.
  • The Father command Christ precisely how to speak in all circumstances, and Christ obeyed precisely.

John 7:16 – Jesus said, “My teaching is not Mine, but His who sent me.” 

  • Jesus didn’t teach His own ideas – nor should we.
  • Jesus only taught what the Father gave Him – so should we.

 John 7:18 – Jesus said, “He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory.”

  • When we say what we want to say – rather than what the Father commands us to say – we do so from pride.
  • We are seeking our own glory.

 How did you talk before you came to faith in the Lord Jesus? How did your speech change?

  •  How are you doing in this area today? In what ways are you stumbling?
  • How are you doing in the way you speak to your spouse?
  • How are you doing in the way you speak to your children?
  • Your parents?
  • Your team?
  • Your
    neighbors?
  • Your fellow brothers and sisters?
  • Your enemies?

James 3:3-8 – “Now if we put the bits into the horses’ mouths so that they will obey us, we direct their entire body as well. Look at the ships also, though they are so great and are driven by strong winds, are still directed by a very small rudder wherever the inclination of the pilot desires. So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell. For every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by the human race. But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison.”

  • Here James explains quite vividly how difficult it is to control the tongue.
  • Bits control horses
  • Rudders control ships.
  • Small tools are used very effectively to tame, direct and control large animals and great ships.
  • But the tongue untamable by mere human efforts.
  • James uses powerful images and analogies, carefully chosen to help us understand.

James also points to the catastrophic destruction the tongue can do, even though it is so small — like a small spark, it can “set aflame” a great forest. Consider the language James uses here.

  • “The tongue is a fire”
  • “The tongue is…the very world of iniquity”
  • “The tongue…defiles the entire body”
  • “The tongue…sets on fire the course of our life.”
  • “The tongue…is set on fire by hell”
  • “The tongue…is a restless evil”
  • “The tongue…[is] full of deadly poison”
  • Again, powerful images and analogies to help us understand.

 James echoes the language of David in the Psalms:

  • Psalm 32:9 – “Do not be as the horse or as the mule which have no understanding, whose trappings include bit and bridle to hold them in check, otherwise they will not come near to you.”
  • Psalm 39:1 – “I said, ‘I will guard my ways, lest I sin with my tongue; I will restrain my mouth with a muzzle while the wicked are before me.’”

James 3:9-12 – “With it [our tongue] we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way. Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water? Can a fig tree, my brethren, produce olives, or a vine produce figs? Nor can salt water produce fresh.”

  • James points out how sinful and foolish we can be in how we communicate.
  • With our tongue, we bless our Lord Jesus Christ and our Father in heaven.
  • Yet with that same tongue, we have the ability to curse men, even though they were made in the image and likeness of God.
  • This is wrong. This is not godly behavior.
  • “My brethren, these things ought not to be this way.”

Yet again, James chooses powerful images and analogies to make his points.

  • Fountains down provide fresh water and bitter water.
  • Fig trees don’t produce olives.
  • Grape vines don’t produce figs.
  • Don’t expect a glass of salt water to suddenly produce fresh water.
  • Nature is “either/or” – why are we as followers of the Messiah “both/and”?

James is making the case that how we use our tongue is: 

  • First, a test of whether we really are true born again believers in Jesus the Messiah – because if we are, our speech will be radically different than before we were saved.
  • Second, a test of how faithfully and lovingly we are walking as believers – by God’s grace and in the power of the Holy Spirit, we must continually be improving the control and direction of what we say and how we say it.
  •  Our tongue (and thus our faith/the quality and depth of our relationship with the Lord) is tested in various trials. (see James 1:2)
  • We need tremendous wisdom in how we use our tongue. (see James 1:5)
  • We must be “quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger,” for this is evidence of the righteousness that is developing within us. (see James 1:19-20)
  • We must not become arrogant about think we are truly godly, religious, righteous people if we cannot bridle our tongue, for we are simply deceiving ourselves. (see James 1:26).
  • We are to be guided in all things by the “royal law” of love for our neighbor, and speak and act as those who understand that we will be judged by how faithful we are to Christ’s standard and His “royal law.” (see James 2:8, 12)

James 3:13 – “Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom.”

  • NIV: “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.”
  • Men of true wisdom and genuine understanding are humble, gentle, well-behaved, careful in how they live and in what they say.

“The gentleness of wisdom” is a very useful turn of phrase.

  • What does it mean to be “gentle”?
  • mild in temperament or behavior; kind or tender; meek
  • moderate in action, effect, or degree; not harsh or severe:
  • “Gentleness or meekness is the opposite to self-assertiveness and self-interest. It stems from trust in God’s goodness and control over the situation. The gentle person is not occupied with self at all. This is a work of the Holy Spirit, not of the human will,” says one commentary.

 Meekness/gentleness isn’t a trait much-talked about by the world, or by the Church. But….

  • It is a trait of our Savior
  • Paul speaks of “the meekness and gentleness of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:1)
  • Jesus Himself said, “Matthew 11:29 (Jesus speaking) – “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
  • Did Jesus ever get angry? Yes, but He never sinned in His anger.
  • It is a trait praised by our Savior – “Blessed are the meek/gentle for they will inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5)
  • It is a fruit of the spirit. (Galatians 5:22)
  • It is a trait required of spiritual leaders.
  • Galatians 6:1 – “Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness.”
  • Colossians 3:12 – “So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience”

3:14-18 – “But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”

 Here James draws a distinction between earthly wisdom and godly wisdom or “wisdom from above.”

  • Earthly “wisdom”
    • Natural
    • Demonic
    • Produces bitter jealousy
    • Produces selfish ambition
    • Produces arrogance
    • Leads to lying
    • Leads to disorder, confusion, and “every evil thing”
  • Wisdom from above:
    • Pure – divine, holy, unselfish
    • Peaceable – seeks to make peace
    • Gentle – kind, humble
    • Reasonable – easy to entreat, willing to yield, courteous
    • Full of mercy – kind, gracious, not defensive
    • Produces good fruit – fruit of the Spirit
    • Unwavering – not double-minded, not waffling
    • Without hypocrisy – does not “claim to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform”
    • Is characterized by peace and leads to a fruitful harvest of righteousness
  • NIV: “Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.”
  • The Message: “Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor.”
  • The Living Bible: “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure and full of quiet gentleness. Then it is peace-loving and courteous. It allows discussion and is willing to yield to others; it is full of mercy and good deeds. It is wholehearted and straightforward and sincere. 18 And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of goodness.”

Closing Thoughts

  • This chapter is important for all believers – all of us in the Body of Christ are to love one another, to be kind and gentle with one another, to be careful is what we say to each other, and how we say it.
  • This chapter is important for all leaders – James begins this chapter by drawing special attention to those who teach (pastors, teachers, elders and others in the ministry) because we are called to follow the model of Christ and be the model for others. This is a high and hard calling. We ought to do better because we ought to know better. We must be very careful not to be hypocrites, telling others to speak and behave in a godly way, but failing to lead the way in our own personal lives. And James tells us we will be judged more strictly.

The Bible is filled with wisdom for us in how we speak.

  • Proverbs 15:1 – “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
  • Proverbs 15:23 – “A man has joy in an apt answer and how delightful is a timely word!”
  • Proverbs 16:23-24 – “The heart of the wise instructs his mouth and adds persuasiveness to his lips. Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”
  • Proverbs 19:22 – “What is desirable in a man is his kindness.”
  • Proverbs 21:23 – “He who guards his mouth and his tongue, guards his soul from troubles.”
  • The Lord Jesus said in John 13:34-35, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
  • The Apostle James wrote in James 1:19, “everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.”
  • The Apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians 4:15 that we are to be “speaking the truth in love.”
  • Indeed, Paul gives much emphasis both to what we say and how we say it:
  • Ephesians 4:25 – “laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor…”
  • Ephesians 4:26 – “be angry, but do not sin…”
  • Ephesians 4:29 – “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word  is good for edification, according to the need of the moment, so that it will grace to those who hear it. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit [by disobeying this point]….”
  • Ephesians 4:32 – “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”
  • Ephesians 5:4 – “there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.”
  • See Colossians 3:8-9 – “put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth [and] do not lie to one another…”

How are we doing in this area? Is it possible we think we are doing just fine in this area, but that not everyone around us agrees?

  • If I’m stumbling – and James says we all stumble – am I willing to honestly assess the problems I’m causing with my tongue?
  • Am I willing to repent and make things right with the people I’ve hurt?

May the Lord lead you and encourage and help you do better in what you say and how you say it, that you may reflect the love and gentleness and wisdom of Christ.

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Joel C. Rosenberg’s Blog