It Takes A Village
Passage: James 3:13–4:12
Community Group Discussion Questions:
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Read James 3:13-4:12 together as a small group and then work through the following questions:
- In 3:13-18, James compares the difference between false wisdom on the one hand, and true wisdom that comes down from above. It’s easy to assume that wisdom is measured by how much someone knows, or how well they can manipulate people and situations. However, what’s the true measure of biblical wisdom according to James? Can you think of certain people in the church who illustrate true wisdom? How have they encouraged you by their example?
- In 4:1, James askes where “quarrels and fights” come from. What’s James answer, according to verses 2? In your life, have you seen inner desires result in quarreling? Describe your experience.
- In verses 2-3, James insists that we “don’t have” because we “don’t ask” of God in prayer. And when we do ask, our motives are wrong. In your experience how does prayer relate to our deepest needs and our sense of identity? Have you ever seen God change your desires as you prayed? Share with the group what that was like.
- In verses 4-5, James argues that one cannot be in intimate friend of the world (that is, embrace the world’s values and practices), while also being God’s friend. In fact, James calls his readers an “adulterous people” because they were redirecting their love for God to the things of the world. Furthermore, God was “jealous” for their affections (see vs. 5). Read Exodus 34:14 and Zechariah 8:2. Is it appropriate for God to be “jealous” for us? If so, how should that fact motivate us to love and obey God with all our heart?
- In verses 6-10, James urges his Christian readers to repent. How is repentance described in these verses? What does it look like for us to practice repentance as an ongoing discipline in our Christian lives? What does God promise to do if we truly repent, according to this passage?
- Verses 11-12 revisit the topic of controlling our tongues. Read Jesus’ words in Matthew 7:1-5 and compare them with James’ words here. What’s the difference between “appropriate judging” in the church (after all, James makes a lot of judgments in this letter!) and “inappropriate judging” that Jesus and James decry? Can you think of times in your life where you’ve crossed the line into unrighteous judgment on a brother or sister through what you said? How should we make things right when we know we’ve crossed that line?
- Finally, take a look at this passage as a whole. Notice that everything said here must be applied in relationships, and specifically, in the biblical community of the church. Why is it so important to grow as a Christian in the context of the whole Christian community? How can we help one another keep the instructions James gives us in this book?
Prayer exercise: Take time to practice repentance as a group. Give community group members time to pray out loud, asking God for forgiveness regarding the sins mentioned in this passage. Where appropriate, be specific. Next, give thanks to God together for his complete forgiveness and restoration in Christ (1 John 1:9) and thank him for his grace and for his nearness. End your time together by singing God’s praises, or just praying out words of praise for who God is.