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by Sindhu George
"Trust in the Lord with all you heart
and lean not on your own understanding:
in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight."
Chapter 3 of James’ letter to Jewish Christians hits hard about how our inner life is always evident in our outer life through words and actions.
It happens to us all. We learn something new and are certain that we have a full grasp of it. We see it all clearly. In our excitement, we go out and tell everyone, not meaning to boast or to be pushy. New believers in Christ can be the same. Excited about our new found belief, we tell everyone, helpfully telling them how to live and what they may be doing wrong. Rushing into becoming a teacher of the subject may be a mistake. The danger is that others look more closely into the teacher’s life. Experts in any subject are expected to live out the truths that they teach. Showing teaches more than telling. God’s truths are intended to cause change within the believer - change of thought, change of living, change of heart.
Our tongue or our mouth as mothers and fathers are more apt to call it, constantly gets us into trouble. Speaking without thinking it through - without a mature filter - causes misinformation, misunderstanding and hurt feelings. We must always be on guard that our speech doesn’t run ahead of our comprehension, boasting about things of which we don‘t have a full understanding.
In any stage of a believer‘s life there is the danger of falling back into old habits. Inconsistencies become apparent through outbursts of temper. We may praise God one moment and in an unguarded moment, curse someone who crosses our path, forgetting that this person was made in God‘s own image. Our outburst may seem benign but words always carry out a purpose. Words can build up and encourage or tear down and destroy.
Envy and selfishness can hide within the heart of the most well meaning believer. We may think that others don’t see it but it is never really hidden. Evil has a way of showing itself in big and small ways. Words escape that, if thought about, we would know are not kind; are not encouraging; are not helpful. “For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.” Matthew 12:34 (NIV)
In his letter, James encouraged believers to mature their faith and to become wise representatives of the faith. Wisdom, that comes from God is shown by the way one lives. True wisdom is evidenced by a good life lived by a humble person.
James, in chapter 2 of his book of the Bible, speaks of how mature Christians approach faith and good deeds. Ephesians 2:8-9 makes it clear that it is by grace through faith that we are saved. It isn’t anything that we do ourselves - no good works - that earns us a place in God‘s family.
Some people seem to go through life effortlessly. They are calm and collected even when there is trouble in their life. These people have what I call a spiritual calm. I see this in all ages, although more often in older Christians. They traverse the rocky places of life with the same even stride as the smooth. They have a strong, unshakable faith.
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