NASHVILLE (BP) — This weekly Bible study appears in Baptist Press in a partnership with LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. Through its Leadership and Adult Publishing team, LifeWay publishes Sunday School curricula and additional resources for all age groups.
This week’s Bible study is adapted from the YOU curriculum.
Bible Passages: James 2:15-17, 20; 3:6-9, 13, 17
Discussion Questions: How do you demonstrate “wisdom’s gentleness” (James 3:17) as you encounter controversial issues of today? How have you seen words destroy the peace of a community? How can you use your words to cultivate peace in your community?
Food for Thought:
James moved from dealing with the sin of showing favoritism, to the relationship between faith and works. When we talk about “works” in the Bible, we have to make sure we are talking about them on the correct side of salvation. People cannot earn their way and be accepted in heaven by doing good works. In 2:14-17, James declared faith without works is not saving faith, such as that of a person who talks about helping others but takes no steps to meet their needs. In today’s lesson our attention turns to the way our faith is expressed with wisdom through our good works and our words.
James 2:14 sets the stage. In this verse James asks, “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says He has faith, but does not have works? Can his faith save him?” No disappointment could be greater than reaching the end of your life and standing before Jesus for judgment, only to find out that your so-called faith is not real and is not able to save you (James 2:20). His point is simple, but extremely important. Faith without works is dead. We can say, “I believe in Jesus” all we want. However, if our actions do not prove that our hearts have been changed, then our faith is actually worthless. It is dead. It is really not faith at all.
James returned to the subject of teachers in 3:13 and 17. He points out that a teacher should exhibit “wisdom’s gentleness.” The Greek word for gentleness conveys the idea of harnessed, disciplined strength. It can describe someone who is teachable. In verse 17, James turned to a description of genuine wisdom whose source is God. As we remember Martin Luther King Jr., we continue to marvel at his display of wisdom’s gentleness. Could anything other than a commitment to nonviolence have won over the hearts of a country at large? His “gentleness” was no indication of weakness. His was a dogged determination, unflappable in the face of the most intense hatred and persecution. He made the determined choice to remain humble and gentle, even when facing great opposition. Would you do the same?
The following seven qualities flow from wisdom’s essential purity: loving peace; being gentle, compliant, and full of mercy; bearing good fruits; showing no favoritism, and being without hypocrisy. Cultivating peace in our communities will always begin in the hearts of individual Christians. Having placed our faith in Jesus Christ, we are to allow His love and character to permeate our works, our words and our wisdom. We must not stand on the sidelines and wait for others to fix the issues we can so plainly see. We also must go out into our communities filled with the Holy Spirit and guided by God’s Word. Then, and only then, can we do the work God has called each of us to do.
Intentionally focused on urban and multicultural believers, YOU is biblically based with culturally relevant and affirming lessons to help people connect, grow, serve, and ultimately be engaged in impacting the world for Christ. This flexible, non-dated all-in-one quarterly resource offers weekly Bible study for leaders and learners, devotionals, and teaching plans, as well as articles on hot topics and missions. For additional online teaching resources, visit LifeWay.com/YOU.
Other ongoing Bible study options for all ages offered by LifeWay can be found at LifeWay.com/SundaySchool.