Last Sunday KPaul talked about James 1:22-27. This passage starts a new section in James. For the next few verses, James will elaborate on how it looks for a believer to live out their faith. For James, saying you believe isn’t enough. There should be a visual display of that belief in our lives. Jesus said the same thing in a story once.
“What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’Matthew 21:28-31a
“‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.
“Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go.
“Which of the two did what his father wanted?”
The answer of course is the first one. He did what his father wanted. The second one agreed to do it, but didn’t. Obedience is the action of doing what was asked, not the agreeing to it. In the same way, when we believe, we are agreeing that Jesus is the only way to God, but that agreement needs to be followed by the action of obedience.
James emphasizes three specific forms of obedience — keeping a tight rein on our tongues, taking care of widows and orphans, and keeping ourselves from being polluted by the world. We will see some more ways that God calls us to obey this coming Sunday. None of these happen on their own. We don’t drift into keeping our tongues under control. We don’t drift into purity. We don’t drift into taking care of vulnerable people. We have to be intentional about it.
Being intentional is hard. It takes effort beyond just making it through the day. I don’t know what that looks like in your life. James compares it to looking in a mirror and remembering what you look like rather than looking in a mirror and forgetting. KPaul used the phrase, “No impact without contact.” Maybe posting these verses or that phrase on your mirror will help you. But be intentional about your listening, your hearing, and your obedience, about your contacts that create impact.
Sometimes, I find that taking the passage that I am studying and turning it into a prayer is helpful. It is a good way to start praying if you’re feeling stuck for one thing. It’s also a good way to take what God is saying to you in a passage and asking for His help to do it. Sometimes putting your own name in the verses helps as well. So today I want to end by praying these verses of James over us. Feel free to personalize this with your name.
I pray that the people of Avalon, that I, would not merely listen to your word, deceiving ourselves, but that we would do what it says, that we would be intentional about the hearing and the doing. We don’t want to be like the person who looks into a mirror and forgets what they look like. We want to be the people who look into your law, your word that has been implanted in us, that saves us, that gives us freedom; and after looking intently into that word, continuing to do what it says. Help us keep a tight rein on our tongues. Don’t let us deceive ourselves because we don’t want our religion to be worthless. We want to be accepted by God, our Father. Show us how to look after the vulnerable in our world. There are many and we know that is what you want from us. And keep us pure Lord. We want to be the ones changing the world and not the other way around. Thank you for choosing to give us birth through your word. Help us be your messengers to those around us, telling others about your good gifts.