Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. James 1, verse 22.
I’m impatient, and I don’t tolerate ‘stupid’ very well. If there is something to be done, I prefer to get on it and get it done. Someday, when I get to heaven, I hope to meet James and see if my hunch is right because I suspect that we have a few things in common. Maybe that’s why I bristle at this book. I’ve read and re-read James several time over. On the surface, it seems very works-righteous centered. Don’t just say you believe: do something about it. Work out your own salvation. You need to prove to God that you believe in Him, because you need to prove yourself to God. You, you, you; me, me, me.
If you stop here, you’re getting the wrong message. That isn’t what James is saying at all. The impatient part of me wants to cut to the chase and get busy. I’ve got it, you see; I understand. Now, it’s time to do something with it. James would agree with that, right?
You see, James isn’t telling us to do anything to be worthy of Jesus, or curry His favor. He isn’t saying that there’s anything we need to do to gain salvation because salvation is a free gift of Jesus, something He does for us and not the other way around. We don’t have to earn our way into eternity. He’s already made it possible for us to be there with 100% of the work already done.
I think one of the ways to read what James is saying is ‘don’t be a hypocrite.’ The gift of being redeemed is too good to keep silent about. We shouldn’t say we believe but then disprove it by living unwholesome lives. We need to talk the talk and walk the walk. Faith and living were designed to go together, not just be a suit to wear on Sunday. We’re fooling ourselves if we think they weren’t.
Another way to interpret James is to hear a call to action. You’ve heard the word, now go and put it into practice. We put Jesus’ word into practice by sharing faith in Him, and the single best way to share faith is to live in such ways as prove to a watching, skeptical world that we believe. That’s key: the world is watching. Our friends and family are paying attention. Others are just as hungry for peace as you or me. If you want folks to join the family of believers, then be welcoming by the way you live. Live out Jesus’ words to be righteous, understanding, patient, loving and kind so that others will think to themselves “I want to be like that.”
Lord, I want to live like You would live. Constantly teach me to follow You closely and live in better ways.
Do you have trouble walking the walk?
Why is that? Are there impediments in your way?
How do these words challenge you?