Keep Your Heart With Vigilance

Yesterday the men’s study group that I join when I’m in town was discussing the Epistle of James. The question of the day was, does James, with his emphasis on doing, contract Paul, with his emphasis on grace.

It is said that Martin Luther, after discovering the power of grace, dismissed this letter.

I think they just wrote to different types of people with different goals. James assumed faith and was giving further instruction. He also wrote from the wisdom literature tradition. Paul was converting and nurturing new Christians, most of whom were Greek, not Jewish. And he wrote from the Pharisaic tradition.

But one of the guys yesterday probably nailed it when he noted, “It’s really all about what comes from the heart.”

In Proverbs we read that Wisdom says to keep her words in your heart and (4:8) “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flows the springs of life.”

Jesus, though, warns us that what defiles us is not what we put in our stomachs, but (Matt. 15:18) “what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart and this is what defiles.” He also says to watch what you treasure for there will also be your heart.

So as we look at living a with-God life, it is well that we nurture the heart. Feed it with wisdom. Treasure the right things. And that will lead us to do good works. And we make both Paul and James happy.

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