The first part of this series, if you will, can be found at http://inhisservicetilhecomes.com. It is part of a sermon which I did this past weekend about our service to God and our role in that service. I pray that you will all take it to heart and read both.
C. Faith adopts God’s eternal perspective in both poverty and riches (1:9-11).
In both poverty and riches we have nothing to boast about in God’s sight. Even those who have little, such as a homeless man or woman, if they place their faith and hope in God then they are as rich as anyone else! The rich man doesn’t have anything to boast about beyond this life, because God owns all of the riches and the universe itself! In God’s eyes and by His reckoning, even a rich man is poor if he has placed his faith in his riches. But, by placing your faith in God a rich man will have eternity to praise God for His love and his salvation which came to us all by Jesus Christ!
D. Faith perseveres under testing, not blaming God for temptations (1:12-18).
The 12th verse begins with the word “Blessed”, this reflects the understanding that a person who walks in the paths set by the Lord, sees his plight or his troubles in terms of the hope that he has in Christ, awaiting him in eternity. So by that measure, the present troubles seem fleeting and of no effect. When you compare your life, even to one thousand years, every problem fades into the background. How much more it would do so when compared to an eternity with Jesus? That is why the Word says that our life is like a puff of wind or smoke or like the grass which is green and beautiful one day and dried up and burned the next. Faith grows as it is tested just as a tree’s roots grow deeper when it is exposed to the wind. Sometimes the testing is like a gentle breeze and we get through it will little effort or prayer even. Some days, our testing may be like a rushing mighty wind blowing against a tree or a house and unless there is a good foundation or much roots in the One Who can hold you and take you through this day or trial, then you may fall. But, God will not allow a person who trusts in Him to fail or fall.
E. Faith obeys God’s word, even when provoked (1:19-27).
In verse 19 and 20 there is a bit of wisdom that all of us need to carry with us every day: “Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; 20 For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God” I believe that this is the very reason that God made us with two ears and two eyes and only one mouth because if you hear the things which are being said and notice those things which are happening around you, then when you do speak you should speak from wisdom, God’s Wisdom, and not your own.
We are to lay aside all sinful behavior, which would shine a dim light on your witness if you were still doing it and people know that you claim to be a Christian. As Jesus said, “take up your cross and follow me”; your cross is your burden or your temptation which comes back to taunt you which you have to conquer through faith and perseverance. As James writes, “if you are hearers only” then what are you doing with your faith? He writes that we should be doers of the Word as well as hearers because by living your faith out in public, others will see that you are actually living by what you claim!
Hearing the Word of God on Sunday only would be like “a man who looked at himself in the mirror and then immediately forgot what he looked like”. But, when you hear the Word and then continue to study it daily and walk in that faith which it brings to fruition, then you will be blessed indeed.
If you are religious or only act that way for gain of some kind, and yet you don’t watch what you say or how you say it, then you are deceiving yourself and your own heart and your so-called “religion” is useless and in vain. Everyone will be able to see that you are not really being true to what you claim to be.
You will be seen as someone who claims to be rich even when they have nothing to prove it to be so! A hypocrite. Pure religion with faith in Jesus Christ is undefiled before God and the proof of it is this: To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep yourself unspotted in the world.
In other words, do what Jesus did in that He took care of those having faith in Him with prayer and supplications often and He healed their afflictions in so much that it would give glory to God the Father. Of course, He kept himself from the sins of this world which is nigh impossible for us to do except that we have to live in the Word and be praying to God for the strength to do so while we are present in this body.
Why does James call us to be strong in our faith and our walk with Jesus? Because of the witness that we have by claiming Jesus as our Savior. If you aren’t living out your faith on a daily walk with Him, then how will people be able to tell if you are a true Christian?