GodSpeak: By the (Good) Book – “Ulterior Motive”

GodSpeak for the Week of September 23

“Ulterior Motive”


This week (and, for the next few) we return to the Lectionary, with a special focus on James’ words about motive.


Day 1…Read James 3:13-18

  • Consider this – James is primarily addressing those who teach and lead in congregations, noting that those who want to show true wisdom and understanding are to do so by living out their wisdom and understanding through HUMBLE SERVICE.
  • Answer this – why does humble service do more to show true, Godly wisdom and understanding than merely by “book” knowledge?

Day 2…Read James 3:13-18 (especially v. 14)

  • Consider this – the “bitter envy” James speaks of is what we would associate with contentious rivalry (think Vikings vs. Packers fans, here) ?; while, the “selfish ambition” James notes carries the idea of a person electioneering and/or acting in a partisan way.
  • Answer this – why does James counsel those who have either of these two traits to “not boast about it” or “deny the truth?”

 Day 3…Read James 3:13-18 (focusing especially on v. 16)

  • Consider this – refer back to the definitions of “bitter envy” and “selfish ambition” from yesterday.
    • Paul notes that where you have these two traits, you will find “disorder” and “every evil practice.”
  • Answer this – how does a jealous/contentiously rivalrous spirit and/or one that politics for its own gain/acts in a partisan way – lead to DISORDER and EVIL PRACTICES?
    • What lies at the heart of “bitter envy” and “selfish ambition”?

Day 4…Read James 4:1-2

  • Consider this – James notes that…
    • …desire that does not result in possession causes a person to KILL;
    • …coveting that does not result in possession causes a person to QUARREL and FIGHT.
  • Answer this – do you find this to be true? Why, or why not?
    • Is James implying these cause/effects to be LITERAL, FIGURATIVE…what?

 Day 5…Read James 4:4-6

  • Consider this – James refers to folks as “adulterous” (i.e., that they’ve cheated on their fidelity with God); that is, there is a CHOICE to be made – fidelity to the WORLD or to GOD.
  • Answer this – so, how…by what means can we be faithful to God?! (hint – look at v. 6)
    • And, WHO GIVES us the means to be faithful to God???

Day 6…Read James 4:7-10

  • Consider this – having told us the MEANS by which to be faithful to God (which, incidentally, is a most GRACIOUS means!), James sets out no less than NINE imperatives for our behavior…
  • Answer this – what do you think James means by each of the following…
  • SUBMIT to God…
  • RESIST the devil…
  • COME NEAR to God…
  • WASH your hands…
  • PURIFY your hearts…
  • HUMBLE yourselves before the Lord (and, He will lift you up!)

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