Reviewing the Journey
Monday, September 23, 2019
James has effectively pulled up a chair and gathered all of us around him. There have been times when his words have been harsh and hard-hitting and, at other times, like gentle reminders from a favorite friend.
Either way, James has spoken the truth in love. He considers us all members of the same family. So before we end our 31-Day Journey in James, let’s review some of these convicting, encouraging truths from the pen of this apostle.
James opens his letter by reminding us that trials are an inevitable part of life; they are also part of God’s plan for our sanctification. He encourages us to embrace them and worship God through them, rather than seeking to avoid them. He reminds us that while we can’t choose our crosses, we can choose our responses.
He then challenges us to flee temptation and reminds us that, like trials, temptation is inevitable. Every day brings new opportunities for the devil, the world, and our flesh to wage war against our spirit and the Spirit of God. We need to stop flirting with temptation and start running from it.
James moves on to talk with us about God’s Word. He says we should be quick to hear the Word and slow to talk back to it—and certainly slow to become angry with the truth of God’s Word. God’s Word is an x-ray machine which reveals who we are on the inside. If we aren’t constantly reviewing those films, we’ll never clean our lives up or grow up just right.
Next he challenges us to stop showing favoritism in the body of Christ. Christians shouldn’t be snobs. Favoritism, prejudice, and partiality don’t belong in the Body. The Gospel of Christ is blind to status, race, gender, and class. Christ died for all—that means no one is too low to be lifted by faith in Him.
James stuns us when he reminds us that demons believe in God, too. Faith is more than just believing truths about God, i.e., Jesus is the Son of God, He died, He rose again on the third day. The demons believe all that, too—they saw it happen. But demons will never surrender to Christ as Sovereign Lord, in spite of all they know and believe about Him.
James really begins to meddle when he brings up our mouths. In fact, James wrote more about speech than any other topic in his letter. He was the first to challenge the concept that actions speak louder than words. James went further than that in telling us what we really need to do is make sure our words say the same thing as our actions; we really need both . . . equally, in order to be effective.
James even brings up the subject of patience and why it is an essential virtue in the Christian life. Like farmers, we have to fertilize our spiritual lives and trust our growth to the Lord as we pray and serve Him. Farmers don’t rush their crops. Likewise, we can’t rush our spiritual growth . . . patience is needed as we weed our hearts and fertilize our spirits with the water of truth and trust. Growth takes time.
James wraps up his letter with a challenge to understand the importance of pursuing prodigal brothers and sisters. Yelling “Fire!” is always appropriate whenever there is a fire.
These are some of the milestones along our journey . . . and this epistle ends most practically at bringing sinning believers back to the truth.
Learn from this half-brother of Jesus who served Christ faithfully for years before dying as a martyr for his faith: Christianity isn’t a walk in the park. It’s sweaty . . . and difficult . . . and it daily requires constant surrender to the Holy Spirit.
So let’s roll up our sleeves, as James both commanded and demonstrated, and dive into a life of practical faith . . . for our good and the glory of our Master, Jesus Christ.
Prayer Point: Which of James’ words have been most convicting to you? Pray for God to give you courage and strength to make a change in that area. The New Year has begun . . . resolve today to put your faith into practice and your words into action.
Extra Refreshment: Read Luke 14 as Jesus preaches the true cost of discipleship.