by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Study # 34 April 27, 1998 Harlingen, Texas
Thesis:Beware of the merciless teacher of the Word.
Introduction:James 1:26-27 is typically used by teachers and preachers to generate a huge guilt complex in their hearers because of their hearers' failures of the tongue. Interestingly, that is exactly the opposite purpose that James had in mind when he penned his words. Actually, a good case can be made for the fact that the teacher or preacher who uses this text to generate guilt in his hearers is someone to whom the hearers ought not to pay any more attention AT ALL.
I. The Focus of James' Interest.
A. Is partially identified by his word "seems".
1. This is not a term designed to address the person creating the image.
2. This is a term designed to address the persons witnessing the image and being influenced by it.
3. This means that James' intent is NOT in the direction of 'guilt-generation', BUT in the direction of 'discernment-generation'.
B. Is partially identified by his word "religious".
1. James is writing to people who have an established interest in 'religion'.
a. The word denotes the outward manifestation of an inner relationship with God.
b. James' readers have responded to the Gospel and that proves their interest in having a proper relationship with God.
2. James is writing to people who are looking for a legitimate "example" to follow.
C. Is fundamentally a focus upon giving people guidelines on how to choose the person to whom they will give some level of allegiance as a leader.
1. It would be interesting to know how many church pastoral search committees ask anything about how the candidate responds when faced with a person of need.
II. The Focus of the Use of a Bridle on the Tongue.
A. James reveals a consistent pattern of opposing those who use their tongues for self-promotion.
1. This moves in the direction of boasting.
2. This also moves in the direction of derogatory gossip.
B. James also reveals a consistent pattern of opposition to those who use their tongues to promote themselves as leaders.
1. In 1:26-27, he is dealing with image-creators.
2. In 3:1 and following, he is dealing with those who assume the position of "teacher".
3. In essence, he is dealing with people who are into self-exaltation.
a. James came out of a culture in which men who robbed widows were highly esteemed.
b. James was involved in a culture where esteem was a very limited commodity, so that egoists only had a few options for self-exaltation.
C. James' focus is upon the CONTENT of those who do the teaching AND its IMPACT upon the helpless.
1. He says that God's attitude toward doctrine is how it moves people toward mercy.
2. He basicly says that a merciless religious person is not someone we want to follow.