Nobody likes the person who is all talk. Whether they be the expert on everything or the person who has an opinion on anything, if they aren’t backing it up with action, you lose your credibility. Walk your talk. That is what James tells us to do. Make sure your actions back up what you believe. If not, your faith may be dead.
In the same way faith, if it doesn’t have works, is dead by itself.”
Action Behind Belief
James was the half brother of Jesus, along with being the pastor of the church in Jerusalem. It is easy to detect by reading his epistle that he was a no-nonsense guy who got straight to the point. Here he tells everyone your faith is dead if works don’t accompany it. The whole basis of faith is to put action behind belief. As Christians, we back up what we believe by what we do. If we say we believe by our actions don’t show it, we aren’t walking our talk.
It is always important to remind people that our works don’t earn our salvation, nor do they help us to gain even more favor with God. Our works are always a response to what God has done in our lives. Our service to Jesus should always be out of the overflow of His love working in our hearts. If we are hesitant to serve, it means there is either fear or selfishness that is preventing it. This is where all the excuse stems from.
Walk Your Talk
If you say that you are a believer in Jesus and you are doing the good works commanded in Scripture, you may be all talk. As a believer, you walk your talk. Faith is better shown than spoken. Get out there and serve your Lord and watch as your faith explodes. Over time you will see God work things out in your heart that you haven’t been able to get done on your own.
One thing you can never prepare yourself for as a parent is how much you will repeat yourself to your children. My kids will ask me a question, and I will answer only to have them ask the same exact question a few minutes later. Then I get in trouble for getting upset at having to repeat myself so many times. All of us need to practice being quick to listen.
My dear brothers and sisters, understand this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger, for human anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness.
Slow to Speak
James is the most practical person in the Bible. That makes sense being that he is the pastor of the church in Jerusalem. The primary point he is trying to get across is that we need to be slow to speak and slow to anger but quick to listen. With a group of opinionated people who have just come out of living by the Law, you can imagine how tempers would flare, and people would be talking so much they never stopped to listen to anyone else.
We would be smart to heed James’ words. Too many people walk around in a constant funk because they are angry all of the time. Part of the reason for that is that they talk too much. If they would stop and be quick to listen, a good portion of their anger would subside. The world would be a better place if people talked less and listened more. We wouldn’t jump to conclusions or offend people by our tongue.
Quick to Listen
Anger is a problem many people struggle with. It is next to impossible to be angry and still be righteous. Paul did tell us not to sin on our anger, but that rarely happens. What makes it even worse is that there are walking volcanos waiting to erupt with an unsuspecting person crosses them the wrong way. Let’s strive to be quick to listen and watch as our temper becomes tamed.
When you read this, I will be in Malawi, Africa, visiting the Kondanani Village Children’s home. Malawi is the poorest country in all of Africa. The average person makes $360 per year. Compare that with the average American who makes $55,000. Automatically our heart goes out to those who are going without and rightfully so. Scripture tells us to minister to them, but James also tells us that the poor person should boast in our needs.
Let the brother of humble circumstances boast in his exaltation,”
A Special Place in God’s Heart
God has a special place in his heart for those who are poor. In fact, they have an elevated position and should boast about it. Poverty may deny the person all the earthly pleasures and comforts most of us enjoy, but they benefit from God’s blessings in ways that we will never know. Being poor is not a curse or even a disease. It is part of the fallout of sin. Economies crater on the brink of failure because of corrupt governments and greedy business people.
Don’t despise where God has you at if you are living in poverty. Look to Him and ask how He wants to use you where you are. It is a lot easier to feed five thousand if the person doesn’t have the means as opposed to someone who does but is unwilling to give. It is when all we can do is turn to God that we see Him show up in miraculous ways. Trust Him in your circumstances and watch as He provides a way.
Boast in Our Needs
Maybe you’re not suffering in poverty. I’m gonna guess that is most of us because we have access to the internet and email. Our role in these matters is to look out for the oppressed and meet the needs of the poor. Don’t try to be God in their lives. In fact, Scripture tells us that when we give our left hand should not know what our right hand is doing. That means our giving should be so discreet even we don’t realize we are doing it. We have the ability to bring great glory to God by assisting those in need.
Most people wish that things were better in their lives. Either they wish that things were like they used to be, or they are hoping that things will get better. When people feel like it isn’t going to improve, they lose hope and sink into depression. As a Christian, there is no need to sink into despair because we have the hope of Christ’s return. The best of times are yet to come.
At that time Jerusalem will be called The Lord’s Throne, and all the nations will be gathered to it, to the name of the Lord in Jerusalem. They will cease to follow the stubbornness of their evil hearts.”
Changing of the Guard
When Jesus returns, Jerusalem is going to be His capital. His thousand-year reign will be from a throne there. All the nations of the earth will come and seek His counsel, and peace will be over the whole earth. For believers, it will be a glorious time because we will rule and reign with HIm. The persecution and conflict will subside, and the worship will freely flow from the temple. It will truly be the best of times.
Don’t be discouraged by all the turmoil in the world. It is all leading to the penultimate moment in history when Christ returns. Satan is doing everything he can to bring as many people down with him as possible. Sin is increasing because the hearts of men are becoming more selfish, but one day the trumpets will sound, and Jesus will gather His people to Himself. In the blink of an eye, everything will change.
The Best of Times
Colossians tells us to set our mind on things above. Part of that is keeping our eyes on the horizon in anticipation of HIs return. We can have hope because we know what is going to happen. The best of times will come when Jesus returns and reigns from Jerusalem.
You will hear a lot of people tell you that praise and worship of the Lord are more than singing songs on Sunday mornings, your whole life is worship. While there may some truth to that lifting our voices to praise God is a sacrificial offering. If someone says they worship God in how they live their life, but they don’t raise their voice in acknowledging Him, they are dead wrong. When we worship Jesus, we are lifting up an offering of praise.
Through Him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge His name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.
When Christ became the ultimate and final sacrifice on the cross, our offerings changed from the bloody sacrifice of animals to the spiritual ones of our lips and service to those in need. Our praise and worship is a continual offering God because it acknowledges His name with our mouths. Our acts of service and sharing what we have are pleasing to God. Both of these are sacrifices because they take from what we have and gives it away.
Sacrifice isn’t a popular concept today. The world has a mentality of getting the most they can for as little sacrifice as possible. Workers want to get paid more for doing less work, and children want their parents to give them more while they eschew responsibility like chores. Sacrifice is an essential part of the Christian life. It keeps our focus off of ourselves and provides us with an avenue to express our love.
Offering of Praise
Two of the best ways to sacrifice are to worship the Lord and serve others by sharing what you have. The writer of Hebrews tells us to do it continually because it is the fruit of our lips. A heart that is willing to worship should be overflowing with a desire to praise the Lord, so lift your voice and make a joyful noise unto Him. You will notice that as you cultivate that the desire in your heart will grow.
Whenever I am hiking, I always am on the lookout for holes in the ground or roots exposed. The reason for this is experience, I have tripped over too many of these in my lifetime. There is nothing worse than having to hike out of some beautiful place with a twisted ankle. Leadership has its own issues that will trip you up as well. King Saul provides a perfect case study of someone who tripped over his character flaws. Avoid these pitfalls.
Saul died for his unfaithfulness to the Lord because he did not keep the Lord’s word. He even consulted a medium for guidance, but he did not inquire of the Lord. So the Lord put him to death and turned the kingdom over to David son of Jesse.
A Cautionary Tale
King Saul’s life is a cautionary tale. He was everything Israel thought why wanted. He was a king like other countries plus he was tall and good looking. Sadly, those didn’t cover up for significant character flaws. He didn’t keep God’s Word, looked to the spirit world for council, and didn’t inquire of the Lord. For a leader, those are significant problems, and it eventually led to Saul’s death. This is why God always judges a person by their heart.
One of the dangers of leadership is cultivating the appearance of having it all together while covering major integrity issues. If we work more on the outside issues than on the inside one, we are eventually going to crash and burn. Every leader needs to build his character by being honest, humble and focused on those they are called to serve. The greatest equity any person has is their integrity.
Avoid These Pitfalls
Take a lesson from Saul and do the opposite. Be faithful to the Lord by keeping His Word, seeking His counsel, and rejecting ungodly influences. When you do this, you are building a strong foundation on which your character can grow and flourish. Through commitment and persistence, you will begin to see the fruit of your labor and prevent any significant falls.