Todays readings… Judges 2&3, Isaiah 31, James 1
“… WHO REMAINS STEADFAST UNDER TRIAL”
Today we started reading one of the most thought (and heart) provoking books in God’s word – the letter of James. In many verses James comes straight to the point; the challenge to develop and then maintain Christ-like behaviour in a godless world. James encourages us to be among those “who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” [1 v.12]
James does not simply say the promise is to those who believe in God! – he says “those who love him.” This is a reaction of the ‘heart’ – not just an intellectual acceptance in our minds.
The ‘trials‘ we face individually vary – they can largely be described as things which hinder our minds – no, more than our minds – our hearts – from whole-heartedly focusing on the wonder of eternal things. ‘Focus’ is an interesting word. When I was young it was constantly used in regard to cameras; it was a challenge to take a picture in focus – so it printed out sharp and distinct. Today, it is not a problem, cameras are automatic! But our minds and hearts cannot be put into automatic mode in the service of our Lord. What can we do? We should all know the answer to that question.
Our chapter in Judges today has many illustrations of how, after Joshua died, the people struggled without the guidance of his leadership, their ‘focus’ on the God who had delivered their parents and grandparents from bondage in Egypt – and the eternal blessing of all that godly living entailed – had become distorted, they failed to “remain steadfast under trial.”
What a blessing that we have one (often more) copies of the divine guidance for godly living readily at hand, many of us also have it on computers! Do we make adequate use of this blessing? Do the words we read (or hear read) penetrate our hearts as well as our minds?
James also told his readers to ” receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls …be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” [v.21,22] A “doer” is one who ‘re-acts’ to what he or she hears or reads. God’s word, says James, is “the perfect law, the law of liberty“[v.25] Liberty!? What does James mean? We meditate on what Jesus said to those “who had believed him … you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”” [John 8 v.30,32] This is free from being “a slave to sin” [v.34] and therefore from eternal death. It is a freedom that will create in us the ‘will’ to “remain steadfast under trial.”