a few days ago, i came across a great post by brian mclaren (http://www.patheos.com/Resources/Additional-Resources/Debt-Ceiling-Dreams-Brian-McLaren-07-14-2011.html/) in which he discusses the current debate in congress concerning the national debt and the debt ceiling. mclaren's post cites the epistle of james several times, so i decided last night that i would reread it. in reading, i was reminded of the epistle's practical advice that a faith that does not compel one to action in the service of others is not a real faith, and i wondered if the writer was rebutting the position that good works are not sacramental. the dangers of an uncontrolled tongue hit home, bringing to mind the buddhist emphasis on effort in achieving the desired result and the teaching that self-control is a necessary virtue. the God of james' epistle is a God of love. the writer very clearly says that God does not test (or in some translations "tempt") us, but it is our own cravings and desires that cause us to be tested, or tempted. showing preferential treatment to those who have wealth or fame, while demeaning those who are poor, is condemned, and we are cautioned to treat everyone as a neighbor.
it would be a wonderful world if each of us could live in the way that the epistle of james suggests. there could be no better summary of the good news of Jesus that this short letter. i pray that each of us will take the words of james' epistle to heart and that we will learn to live in obedience to the perfect law of love.