By what WE do, as well? (part 7)
James gets the point across that “Yes, of course we’re saved by what we do.” But what he means by “saved” isn’t salvation eternally. He’s talking about the process God set up for this life now, that saves us from living a bad life with bad effects to living a good life with good effects.
And by ‘good effects’ he’s not talking about a charmed life, or health and wealth, or never having problems. Being the Father’s much loved children didn’t make those James was writing to immune from “facing trials of many kinds” (James 1:2). But the purpose of the trials was to help them become mature, stable, wise and whole, pictured by the royal law of love (2:8), that when lived would give them freedom (salvation) from doubt, hypocrisy, uncertainty, emotional instability, and the debilitating effects of evil, immorality, anger, spite, and blaming others for bad things happening – all of which are mentioned by James.
So James the practical is very much talking about the life our Father wishes for us now, that he made possible for us when we trust him – Abraham being our example, because when he “believed God it was credited to him as righteousness, and he was called God’s friend,” James 2:23.
In this life now, then, James is saying we experience two things: being credited with righteousness, and being God’s friend. Both focus on what God thinks of us for trusting him, and for accepting that the trials we go through are totally for our benefit from a God who loves us. Or as James phrases it, “We’re blessed all right, when we stick to obeying God and trusting him under trial, because he promises a crown of life to those who love him,” James 1:12.
So let’s make it three things we’re blessed with: credited with righteousness, being God’s friend, and a crown of life too. For trusting God under trial – which is our way of showing our love to him – does he ever love us in return. He’d happily pop a crown on our heads and announce, “This is my beloved child in whom I am well pleased.”
So James is asking those troubled by trials, “Does this change your view of God a bit, knowing that he deeply loves us for trusting him, and that he promises to show it too?”…(more on this tomorrow)