What should be our top priority as the people of God? In this brief clip, R.C. Sproul analyzes the surprising answer that the Apostle James gives to this question.
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Now, I’ve often said, if we were to have the opportunity to ask Jesus to boil down the essence of the faith that He delivered to His church and asked Him to give us the top priorities of our behavior: “Jesus, what should we do more than anything else? What should we be concerned about?” I wonder what Jesus would say? We don’t know, because He never said that this is the one thing that it all comes down to. But the next best thing would be to have the brother of Jesus come to us, and we say to the brother of Jesus, “What’s the most significant thing that we should be doing as believers to be pleasing God?” And, of course, the answer that James gives to that question is extraordinary. Few people guess it. But at the end of his epistle, after he’s given all of these exhortations and all these admonitions, he says, “And above all—above all, let your yea be yea and your nay be nay.” And then he says the essence of true religion is the care of widows and orphans. Do you see how practical James is in his concern and in his orientation? Who would imagine that any Apostle would say that above all, first and foremost, let your yea be yea and your nay be nay. And yet, it’s reminiscent not only of what Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount, but it’s reminiscent of His words before Pontius Pilate when Pilate asked Him if He was a king. And Jesus dodged that question and said, “For this purpose I came into this world: to bear witness to the truth,” because to the Jew of the Old Testament, speaking the truth included keeping your word. In fact, the thing that makes God so truthful is not only that what He says agrees with reality and corresponds to real states of affair. But when God says yes, He means yes. And when God says no, He means no. And that when God makes a promise, He keeps it. When God makes a covenant, He fulfills it. And so, it’s not really surprising when we analyze how central it is to the sinful life of the breaking of promises and of the violation of our words that we find the manifestation of sin. And then it shouldn’t surprise us that he says, “Above all, we are to be people of truth,” people whose word can be trusted, people who are keepers of the covenant we have with God rather than breakers of it. Or, as James says, to “be doers of the Word and not hearers only.”
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