Dear Church Family,
We have finished our time in Matthew 5-7! I’ve mentioned it several times over the past month, but if you just can’t get enough of the message of the Sermon on the Mount, the letter of James in the New Testament has many connections to Jesus’s words in Matthew 5-7.
For example, a keyword for Jesus in Matthew 5:48 is the Greek word teleios, which we could translate as “perfect,” “complete,” or “whole.” In a sense, the whole Sermon on the Mount is dealing with how to live a whole life—a heart and life that is completely synchronized with God’s purposes in Jesus. James picks up Jesus’s keyword at the beginning of his letter and encourages the Christians that joyfully enduring trials will help them become teleios (James 1:4).
Another way James borrows from the Sermon on the Mount is in how he depicts God as a giving Father. Several times in Matthew 6, Jesus had spoken of God the Father as the one and gives his children all that they need, and who will reward this people in the end. In Matthew 7, Jesus compares God the Father to an earthly father, who knows how to “give good gifts” to his children if they ask. James picks up these themes several times just in the first chapter of his letter. James depicts God as the one who gives generously when we ask in faith (James 1:5). James portrays God as “the Father of lights” who consistently gives all good things and who gave us new life as his children (James 1:17-18). James talks about God as the Father who truly cares for the widows and orphans and wants us to care about them too (James 1:27).
Finally, James echoes Jesus’s emphasis on combining hearing and doing, faith and works. Jesus ended his words in Matthew 7 with a challenge to bring “hearing” and “doing” together (Matt 7:24-27). James echoes this combination by warning his audience to “be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves” (James 1:22). James goes on to emphasize how important it is to think about faith and works as two sides of the same coin in the economy of God (James 2:14-26). According to James, a living faith is one that acts. When God changes our heart, our actions will follow.
There are many other connections to track down between Jesus’s words in Matthew 5-7, and James’s words in his letter. I think reading them both together can help illuminate both texts. As I think about the past month, I’m encouraged by our commitment to combine hearing and doing in service to our community (including events such as the Gospel Fest and the partnership with the Living Faith Church for the fair). I’m grateful that God is the Father who gives us all that we need and who truly “Treasures” us (as our VBS theme reminded us of this week). And I’m seeking to go deeper into the complete life that Jesus calls us to as we follow him.
Blessings to you all,