Sunday, April 8, 2012
Scripture Sunday: The Book of James
James is a very helpful guide to living out your Christian faith in tangible ways. James is writing to other Christians and telling them that faith in Jesus Christ should always produce "works" or outwardly apparent expressions of that faith. He also includes a lot of general advice not related to the faith and works issue.
One of my favorite verses in James happens early on in chapter 1 verse 5, which says: "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him". I like remembering that verse because it plainly says that if we're confused or if we lack discernment on a certain issue, God's not going to turn us away for asking for wisdom. It's good to get in the habit of asking the Lord for wisdom with how to handle certain problems.
James also has some good things to say on the subject of temptation: "Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:
But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed." (1:13-14) In other words, God is not responsible for bringing anyone down into sin. He has created a world where temptation exists, and Satan makes full use of all the temptations at his disposal in order to ruin God's human creations, but God himself is not working against humans as they fight temptation--he's there to deliver us from temptation. It seems like when we mess up, it's easy to blame God for allowing the temptation to be there in the first place, but in a world full of free will, we are surrounded by choices. The Lord does not remove our ability to choose; he just points us in the direction of the right choice and lets us decide for ourselves what we'll pick.
Another verse that's often quoted in my family, and in my own mind, is 1:27-- "Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world." Pretty simple, isn't it? The most perfect outward expression of faith is not fasting, tithing, or wearing a really nice suit to church. The best expression of faith isn't prophesying or preaching or teaching, either. It's keeping yourself pure and caring for widows and orphans, the people who have true and desperate needs.
Have a blessed Easter, everyone!