Self-serving arguments or lying to yourself – James Pt5

Faith and humility

Holy Trinity Church, Huddersfield, Sunday 18 November 2018

east window detail
The east window from above, not a view you can get by visiting Holy Trinity

Faith and humility was the theme of yesterday’s service and also the sermon title. I have ranted before on how using two abstract nouns conveys no meaning, I am not repeating that now.

During the week, in a conversation about the recent sermons on the letter of James, I was told that James does not really need any explaining as it is so straightforward. Nevertheless, these blogs are about my impressions of the service So you will get my impression of the service. Not all people will have the same impression. I can think of one service in the past where people were saying how good and challenging the sermon was, but God spoke to me and challenged me through words spoken afterwards over coffee. No challenge over coffee yesterday, either the one before or after the service.

I take notes. I follow the lesson on a bible app on my smartphone, so it is still there for me to look back on. I only found things to take notes on in the first half of the sermon, other than at the very end. Looking back I cannot even recall what the second half of the sermon was. What follows then are my thoughts on my notes.

What causes arguments? The preacher said that James said it was pride and self-serving. I’m not so sure about that on its own is right, I’d say it was lying, Lying to others and to yourself. Saying what we actually think means that we open ourselves to being wrong, so we lie to ourselves and others because our self-serving pride would rather that we fall out with other people. As James said:

What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. James 4:1-2

Lying to yourself covers the ideas of passions at war within you better than a simply laying the blame on pride. Convincing yourself that you need something you want (you desire and do not have in the Bible passage) is also self-deception. It’s all about lies.

That’s what I got from the sermon, I sent too much time meditating on why the preacher did not go deep enough on this bit that I wasn’t really listening to the rest. Others may have got something from later on in the sermon.

Still looking at yourself and asking what do I really need is a good discipline.

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