Where Faith and Action Collide With Progress Not Perfection (James 1)
Where faith, action, and progress collide: that is what we discover when we dive into the words of the half-brother of Jesus in James 1.
After years spent as a firsthand skeptic, not convinced that Jesus was who He said He was, James not only arrived at the truth about Jesus, but lived long enough prior to his martyrdom in Jerusalem (around A.D. 62) to expound powerfully on his new faith. The result is what many often refer to as “the Proverbs of the New Testament.”
As we work our way through James, the title of our new series indicates what we are looking for: “wisdom for wholeness.” In fact, I would go as far as to say there is expectation that, for those of us who are Christians, we are to ultimately live as whole beings, able to withstand challenges regarding our faith because of who we serve. But to accomplish this is not something we have to do alone; we have God’s Word to guide us. It says in James 1:5-6 (ESV): “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.” It is because of this wisdom that we can “remain steadfast under trial,” and be “blessed” because of it “which God has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12). Therefore, the connection between faith, wisdom and action is powerful if we obey what God tells us through James 1:19-25 (ESV):
“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.”
What then will you do? How will you respond to God’s call?
As Pastor Josh Argubright introduced on Sunday, our goal as Christians is progress not perfection. God does not call us to be perfect in times of challenge and opposition. He simply calls us to trust Him. God wants us to come to Him despite ourselves, and despite what it says in James 1:14-15 (ESV) when we read, “Each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire … [for worldly] desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” But here is the beauty of that reality: death has been defeated. And the good gifts that God so graciously gives us because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross are readily available to all of us. Whether or not we will choose to receive these gifts, though, is up to each of us individually. No one can decide to do it for us.
So as we continue to work our way through James, do not slumber in your spiritual walk. Jesus might be patient and wait for you, but you don’t have to test His patience if you jump into action today. Life can be tough, and we will be tested as we grow in our relationship with Jesus, but the benefits of following Him far outweigh any cost you might incur in the process. So believe His Word when it says this in James 1:17-18 (ESV):
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.”
Get started by reading James 1 in its entirety and then follow it up with these QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF:
- What value do trials have in the life of a Christian?
- What is wisdom? How should it play itself out in the life of a Christian?
- What moves a person from solely being a hearer of God’s Word to a doer?
- How do you know if you are maturing in your walk with Jesus?
- What can you do to grow your faith in Jesus Christ today? How about in the days, months, and years ahead?
IN REVIEW …
James 3:13-18: “Though It Cost All You Have”
James 3:1-12: “Taming the Tongue”
WHO “WE ARE” AT HARVEST CHRISTIAN CHURCH …
- OUR MISSION: Harvest exists to Love God, Love People, and make Followers of Christ / Blog post: “The Heart Commandment and its Result”
- CORE VALUE #1: Bible-centered Teaching / Blog post: “God’s Word is the Torch on Dark Paths”
- CORE VALUE #2: Christ-centered Community / Blog post: “Draw Near to Jesus, Arrive at Community”
- CORE VALUE #3: Cross-cultural Missions / Blog Post: “Our Mission to Close the Breach and Stand in the Gaps”
- CORE VALUE #4: Life-long Discipleship/ Blog post: “The Four Soils of Discipleship”
- CORE VALUE #5: City Outreach /Blog post: “More Than a Sunday Service”