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Every journey has potential pitfalls. These experiences can have negative outcomes if they catch us by surprise or we handle them poorly. These possible pitfalls become more acute if you are a Christian "pilgrim" on the unique journey that is ours.

Session No. 9         PITFALLS FOR PILGRIMS     James 4/13 - 5/11

"Pilgrim" is a stranger in a foreign land who is aware that they are just passing through rather than settling down in that place. Those who have travelled overseas will be aware of cultural clashes, different road rules, the awkwardness caused by language bloopers etc. The Christian journey towards our real home is no different. There are things to be avoided. Beware of the pitfalls that are ahead and round about us.


a. James now confronts those who ignore God in their planning for the future. Read Luke 12/16-21. The man depicted in this story was a fool; not because he planned, but because he left God out of his planning.

b. James, like Jesus, exposes the folly of self-sufficiency - Read Matthew 6/25-33. The pitfall for a Christian in this instance is trying to live like a Christian but planning like an atheist!!  The passage does NOT teach that planning for the future is wrong but planning for the future in a way that excludes God is wrong (especially note this truth in v.15)

c. We need to plan & prepare for the future seeking God's will because of 3 factors:

*Our Ignorance (v.14) - " do not know...."Read Prov.27/1. Because we don't know what tomorrow will bring into our lives, we ought not to boast about tomorrow. Question: In what sense can we or do we "boast about tomorrow"? What does James mean when he talks of boasting?

*Our Frailty (v.14) - " are a mist..."The extremely temporary nature of our earthly life is likened to a fog which may appear almost impenetrable and permanent but quickly dissolves. Such a comparison ought to give us cause to pause and reflect on the brevity of life.

*Our Dependence (15) "...if it is the Lord's Will..."The Apostle Paul said of God "For in Him we live and move and exist (Acts 17/28).  It follows, then, that there is an arrogance or presumption in attitude that excludes God which is the essence of sin and evil.

d. Such sin can be by default - failing to do what is right. A classic example of this "sin of omission" is found in Luke 10/30-37. It was what the Priest and Levite failed to do that saw them condemned in the story .


a. James now confronts the pitfall of covetousness (see 4/13 where he talks about 'profit'). This pitfall is not uniquely applicable to wealthy people about whom it is often thought that they must have been covetous in order to have become wealthy.

b. Such a materialistic attitude shows itself in 4 ways....

*Hoarding ((vs.1-3) Again note the parallels with Jesus' teaching mentioned above Read 1 Tim.6/17-19.

*Dishonesty (v. 4) Here is a possessiveness that withholds what rightly belongs to others. The rich landowners who don't pay wages or hold them back unfairly. Can you think of any contemporary examples that have impacted you or someone you know?

*Self-Indulgence (v. 5)  This is a self-centred luxury that is achieved at expense of others. This certainly is an international reality where rich countries selfishly exist either by ignoring the poor countries or exploiting them. Again, can you think of any examples? Personal, local or international?

*Oppression (v. 6) James is saying "By such action you have condemned others who were powerless to resist". James charges the "corporate business world" with this sin against humanity. 


a. Patience & perseverance are qualities that can be sorely tested in the presence of the above injustices. We either want to give up or we want to rush in and fix things. Patience and perseverance are hard to maintain. You will sense this as you Read Habakkuk 1/1-4;2/1-3;3/17-19

b. Such sinful injustice will not finally be eliminated until the Lord returns (v.7).

c. One of the symptoms of impatience & giving up is grumbling & complaining against each other (v.9) If your Bible has a concordance, see how many times grumbling and complaining are mentioned.

d. James encourages patience by appealing to three examples of patience.

*Farmer (v. 7) - Here is a picture of waiting through the seasons until the harvest finally comes.

*Prophets (v.10)  Years of faithful ministry were often greeted with indifference, resistance.

*Job (v.11) - "the patience of Job"  This expression is almost a by-word for patience.

e. Impatience can be so destructive in the Christian life and ministry - learn to wait on the Lord

APPLICATION: Kingdom perspective is only antidote to presumption, covetousness, impatience

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