We may have finished the book of James but it might be some time until James is finished with us (access the message here: http://www.capebiblechapel.org/media.php?pageID=5).
When we began this series, James was described as a man who comes in love yet has a battle-ax in one hand and a broad sword in the other. James said things that hurt and dug into some sensitive areas. He nailed some of us to the wall regarding our own inconsistencies, and to others of us, he shined a bright light on our hidden hypocrisy. He was tough in his unrelenting call for us, Christ followers, to lead a radical form of life, one which he calls the normal Christian life.
James let us know from the very beginning that the goal of life is not comfort; it’s character. When circumstances get tough—and they will—we aren’t to whine about them but rejoice in them. James urges us to see that God uses difficult times as a tool to develop our faith, so instead of trying to change our circumstances, we should allow our circumstances to change us in Christ.
James also reminded us:
If you hear the Word and know the Word and quote the Word, but you’re not doing the Word, you’re just deceiving yourself.
If you think you’re spiritual and can’t control you’re tongue, you’re spirituality is worthless.
If you think you’re spiritual and don’t visit orphans and widows (or don’t care for people who probably can’t return the favor), your spirituality is worthless.
If you think you’re spiritual and you can’t keep yourself from being stained by the world, your spirituality is worthless.
If you think you’re spiritual and yet you harbor prejudices based on race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic position, your spirituality is worthless.
If you say you have faith but you don’t have works, your faith is worthless.
If you think you’re wise the test is not in what you know, it’s in what you show: is your wisdom from the world or wisdom from above?
If you know the right thing to do and you’re not doing it, it’s sin.
If you’re hoarding possessions for yourself when others have need, it’s wrong and truly what you are hoarding is wrath.
If you have to prop up your words with expressions like “I swear” or “I vow” or “Honest to God,” your life is inconsistent.
There are 108 verses in this little letter, but they combine in a big way to say: “If my Christian life isn’t practical then it isn’t the Christian life! If my Christian life isn’t practical, then it’s not real!”
After living under the penetrating words of James for so many months—squirming under his personal application—it becomes apparent the Lord sees things black and white indeed. We do not serve a God of excuses and fuzzy lines. We serve a God who decisively leads us and always seeks for us to put feet to our faith. Faith is not some lofty idea, it is a way of life; it is the way of life. We are to have a faith with feet, and those feet are to follow the One who has gone and is going ever before us. Let us walk in His steps, today and each day after.