For Sunday, August 30, 2009
I remember one of my seminary professors Scot McKnight saying that when one reads James at first glance you think the guy must have had attention deficit disorder, because he seems to jump from topic to topic so quickly.
This passage is a good example. First James notes that every good and perfect gift is from above (v. 17). Then he says that God gave us birth through the word of truth (v. 18). Wonderful James, but what does that have to do with what you were just talking about?! James then seems to answer this very question with yet another nugget of truth: “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.” Well, James, you sure seem to know something about moving quickly!
Yet might these topics be related after all? Here is a possible explanation for how the above three thoughts are connected. Every good and perfect gift is from above (v. 17). One of the most prominent good and perfect gifts is we Christians ourselves (v. 18). This truth then ought to move our concern from the pettiness of our immediate affairs to the pursuit of a righteous life (v. 19).
Could it then be that the problem is not that James has attention deficit disorder but that we have spiritual deficit disorder? Maybe James was merely tweeting before there was Twitter. May “the Father of the heavenly lights” show us the way to wisdom and blessing.