By what WE do, as well? (part 4)
James makes the point that Abraham was credited with righteousness for obeying what God said, even when it sounded crazy. And the reason James brought the subject up was people in his day who also thought what God was putting them through was crazy.
They were “facing trials of many kinds,” James 1:2, their faith was being severely tested (verse 3), and they weren’t reacting well. They were doubting God (verse 6) and blaming him for their difficulties, claiming “God is tempting me” (verse 13), as though God was purposely trying to trip them up and make life miserable for them. And they were angrily voicing their upset at God too (verses 19-20).
So James reminds them of what they already knew, “that the testing of your faith develops perseverance,” verse 3, that we’re all a work in progress, so let “perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything,” verse 4. God’s in the process of fully developing us – making us whole and complete – so that morally we’re perfect, faultless and blameless (the Greek meaning of “complete”). So ‘hang in there’ – God’s cleaning us up, to help us “get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent,” verse 21.
That’s what they’d been taught. So, James continues, “humbly accept the word planted in you,” verse 21, no matter how crazy it sounds or how tough it is to do, because it “can save you.” That’s what God’s word was designed for, to bring about full salvation, the full and complete maturing of the new humans Jesus is creating in his church. So, verse 12, “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” So what God says in his word may seem crazy at times, but accept it and live it – because God has only blessings in mind.
And, verse 5, “if any of you don’t know how to meet any particular problem, just ask God – who gives generously to all, without making us feel foolish or guilty – and rest assured the necessary wisdom will be given.” So James is saying, “Come on, you know the process. God gave you faith in his word so that you’d want to give it a whirl,” because in “not forgetting what you’ve heard, but doing it- you’ll be blessed in what you do,” verse 25. Blessings promised, but does James tell us what those blessings are?…(more on this tomorrow)