Last Sunday we visited the subject of compassionate love in 1 John 3:11-19. Then, Monday, I led a Bible Study in the jail on the Book of James. In both of these circumstances, I was reminded of the need to understand ourselves, understand worldly reactions, and the need to allow God to create change within.
We tend to let pride, fear, and our past experiences get in the way of love. I know all too well how easy it is to allow circumstances and people in my past to guide how I react to people in the present. When we are triggered by what people say and how people present themselves, it’s often because either their words, or their demeanor reminds us of one who has caused us harm. So, it is difficult to hear what that person is saying as anything other than an effort to cause harm. We know such people exist. Therefore, it makes it challenging to discern when one is doing this on purpose, or if we are merely reading them that way.
That’s why John talks about the necessity to be different than the world in our attitudes and actions. James, who wrote his letter about 40-50 years prior to early Christians addressed the problem of argumentativeness among believers. Whether fueled by past trauma, prideful determination, or just plain misunderstanding, James encourages all of us to learn to tame our tongues in such a way that our words don’t cause hard feelings and battles among believers (James 3:1-4:12).
Submission and humility before God is the key to love and peace with one another (James 4:6-10). What does that do for us? Submission and humility are the first steps to allowing God into our hearts, so that we may get to the root of what is keeping us from loving others as we should. Submission and humility open our souls to repentance and to true lasting change.
In this Lenten season, may we all continue to work toward submission and humility before God so that we may truly and consistently live in love and peace with one another.