SPOKEN PRAYER: Out loud, pray for God to speak to you through your reading. Praise God for giving us His word. Ask the Spirit to help you read with faith, and to live out what you hear from God through the passage.
Grace from the Start
by Pr. Dave Mann
I first read the text for today beginning with verse 7. But then I saw the word “then” in the opening sentence. This word is a signal that the content of verse 7 is built on what was stated in the preceding verse. That seemed pretty important, so I looked back to verse 6 to identify the foundation on which verse 7 was built. What is that foundation? Grace! The call to repentance that we read in verses 7-10 is built on the foundation of the assurance of God’s love. But he gives us more grace.
Even before we repent of our sins, we need the confidence that God will deal with us mercifully. If we don’t have that confidence, if we live in fear that God is bent on condemning us, then we will pull back in hiding, afraid to be honest with God about our sin.
Look at how our traditional confession of sins is also structured. Prior to entering into the portion where we confess our sins, we hear a declaration of grace from the words of 1 John 1:9 – “God who is faithful and just will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Even before we meditate in silence asking the Holy Spirit to bring to our remembrance where we have fallen short, even before we speak the words of repentance, we hear words of assurance that God is ready to forgive.
So it is with these few verses penned by James. Verse 6 assures us that God gives us more grace. Then, we are exhorted to submit, to resist the devil, to come near, to wash, to purify, to grieve, to mourn, to wail, and to humble ourselves. Then at the conclusion, we read yet another announcement of grace, “and He will lift you up.”
Grace from the first to the last!
Holy and merciful God, thank you for the assurance of forgiveness that you give us from the beginning to the end. You indeed are holy and do not tolerate sin in your presence. Yet you have provided the means of forgiveness through the blood of Jesus, even before we ask. What a gift! I am eternally grateful for Jesus. Amen.