As we near the end of our series on the book of James I was asking God to help me to "connect some of the dots" of all the things James writes about.
He covers a lot of territory in his letter to those believers who are facing persecution.
- Count it all joy
- Ask for wisdom
- Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger
- Don't show partiality
- Don't just listen to God's Word, but do what it says
- Control your tongue
- Show your faith by your actions
- Draw close to God
Looking at the list may seem random, but if we look a little more closely to what James says it might make more sense. James tells us when we aren't living joyously into a trial we should ask for wisdom, but the next thing he says hopefully is what connects all these "random" things together.
James 1:5-6 If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone.
That's what did it for me. "When you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God." Faith is the key to living well into our trials. James begins writing about things that are symptoms of NOT having faith in God.
How do we know if our faith is in God? Are you angry?
James tells us to be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger.
The reason I get angry is because I don't get what I want.
James 4:1-3 What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.
Can you imagine? These believers are so angry with each other for not getting what they want they scheme and even go as far as killing someone to get it. If that is the case who is their source? They are!
Since God is not doing such a good job of getting them what they want then they must give him a helping hand. Their faith is more in their own ability than it is in God.
How do we know if our faith is in God? Do you show partiality?
James 2:1 My dear brothers and sister, how can you CLAIM TO HAVE FAITH IN OUR GLORIOUS LORD JESUS CHRIST if you favor some people over others?
Poor people were coming into the church and given a seat on the back row. Rich people were coming into the church and they were getting a seat on the front row. What was going on there? They were looking to the rich people to help meet their needs. The rich people were their source not God.
How do we know if our faith is in God? WORKS, WORKS, WORKS!
James 2:14 What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you SAY YOU HAVE FAITH, but don't show it by your actions.
Someone said to me recently "A Saved Faith is a Serving Faith." What he was saying is there is a natural flow of wanting to serve others when we experience the love of God through salvation. It's our serving that puts on display our faith in God.
How do we know if our faith is in God? WORDS, WORDS, WORDS!
James 3:7 No man can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing are pouring out of the same mouth. Surely my brothers and sisters this is not right.
Words are symptoms of what is in our hearts. If we are using our words to tear people down to make us feel better about ourselves then we have an identity problem. We don't know who we are IN CHRIST! That shows we don't have faith that we are who God says we are.
How do we know if our faith is in God? Are you full of selfish ambition and jealousy?
James 3:13-18 Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth....For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.
Sounds like ambition was getting the best of them. They were jealous of what the other person had and fighting to get it. Sounds like they had become their own source. I'm going to get what's mine.
If you are jealous of what another person has and willing to fight to get it then that shows no faith in God at all.
Bottom line is it is our FAITH IN GOD that helps us live joyously into a trial or our LACK OF FAITH IN GOD that will be our downfall. Just be aware of these symptoms.
- getting angry
- favoring some people over others
- not serving
- tearing people down with our words
- and fighting to get what's mine
Recognizing these symptoms will communicate to us if our faith is in God.