|"Receive... the implanted word" - RGBStock.com photo|
TO CHEW ON: "But be doers of the word and not hearers only deceiving yourselves. … Thus also faith by itself, it if does not have works, is dead." James 1:22; 2:17.
In our reading today, James stresses the importance of living what we claim to believe. He begins by clarifying where those beliefs originate. They are not our ideas but come from the word: "… receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls" - James 1:21.
He goes on to give five examples of things we do that prove our faith is alive. The person with a living faith:
1. Controls his / her tongue - James 1:25
The phrase used for control in the NKJV is "bridle his tongue" (James 1:25). A bridle is "the head harness including bit and reins, used to guide or restrain a horse" - Funk & Wagnall's Dictionary. The bit goes into the horse's mouth, the harness—leather straps attached to each side of the bit—fits over the horse's muzzle and the driver or rider holds the reins to control and steer the horse. What a picture of a self-controlled mouth / speech—or better yet, a metaphor of speech controlled by the Holy Spirit, the One who should be in our life's saddle.
2. Gives practical help to society's poor - James 1:26.
"Orphans and widows" are named here.
Visit - episkeptomai is more than a mere social call. It means to look upon or after, to inspect, examine with the eyes in order to see how he is; to look upon in order to help or benefit; to look about or look out for one to choose, employ etc.
3. Stays pure - James 1:26.
The NKJV uses the phrase "unspotted from the world." The NASB says "unstained." The Amplified adds "uncontaminated."
4. Treats everyone the same - James 2:1-9.
James takes quite a bit of space to describe the tendency of his readers to fawn over those who appear wealthy while sidelining the poor person. He calls it "partiality" and names it what it is: "sin" - James 2:9.
5. Is generous to the needy brother or sister - James 2:15-16.
James uses the word "give" to describe what they do for these people.
Give - didomi means to give of one's own accord, to let have, supply, furnish necessary things, hand out lots. The sense is of generous, no-questions-asked giving.
Two thousand-plus years later, this list is as relevant as it ever was. Let's challenge ourselves today by living out practical proofs in these ways—and others—that our faith is truly alive.
PRAYER: Dear God, help me today to express through my actions the love and commitment I say that have to You. Amen.
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.