Working It Out
Seeing, knowing, loving God, You are the giver of goodness and grace. Today, may I live with joy for Your glory.
Read James 1:19-27
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“A disciple is anyone whose ultimate goal is to live as Jesus would if they were in his place” (Dallas Willard, 1935-2013). This is a timely reminder as we consider the challenges James outlines for us.
Some lectures at Bible College were guaranteed to cause a stir. Arguments in class would spill out into coffee time, as the theologically zealous rehearsed their views and cast suspicion on the orthodoxy of tutors and fellow students: predestination, pacifism, the interpretation of Scripture, and sexual politics all got an airing. Although the debates were important, the communication styles didn’t always reveal a love of truth. The most-heated debates often betrayed immaturity, intransigence, and pastoral insensitivity. It wasn’t very winsome, especially for future church leaders.
James is a tonic to this “my view is right because it is God’s view” arrogance. He unmasks it as human rage, contrary to God’s holy wrath and righteousness. He pleads with Christians to be slow to speak and become angry, while being quick to listen and obey. He uses striking images to make his point: like dirty clothes, sinful attitudes must be stripped off. And the seed of God’s Word, his perfect law planted in them, needs nurturing. Christians are the fourth soil in the parable of the sower (Matt. 13:1-23), yet for God’s salvation work to be completed they have to be humble and teachable, listening to God and others–staying with what they hear and acting on it. What good are religious rituals without practical compassion? Why look in a mirror if you don’t adjust your tie or wipe the ketchup off your cheek? What is the point of knowing the Bible and arguing about doctrinal or ethical issues if you don’t let God’s Word change you from the inside?
We live in a messy world: it is by getting our hands dirty, but keeping our lives clean, that we please God our Father. It is this care that demonstrates genuine faith and God-likeness. Our holiness is formed in service to the forgotten. Our godly character is perfected as we look after the helpless.
Read again the last paragraph in the commentary. Reflect on the challenging statements. What changes in your life do you need to make?
Transforming Lord, today I want to cooperate with You in Your work in my life. Enable me to be more like Jesus in word and deed.