WISDOM & SUCCESSFUL LIVING: Life Lessons from Hard Times – Studies in James
Few things in life are move valuable than experience. Admittedly, it is wearing on the soul at times. The elder saint who said, ‘The hard thing about life is that it is so daily’. But, in the words of Mark Twain, ‘Do not complain about growing old. It is a privilege denied to many’. IN that spirit, today we look at finishing the race.
Life is not a sprint but a marathon. And in this marathon the finishing is most important.
James 2: 17, 24, 26. Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. You see that a person is justified by what he does, and not by faith alone. As the body with the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.
1. The best measure of Christian Living is perseverance. We have turned what, for some like Marin Luther, is a problem passage into a powerful instruction for perseverance. The inseparable link of the Christian seeking to grow up, to be mature and complete, is FAITH AND WORKS. While the beginning of our spiritual life as a Christian, being born again, is by “grace through faith, and not by works,” the continuation of our life as a disciple, is by demonstrating our faith – its lie and vitality – through works. Faith without works for the growing saint is not life but the death of maturity.
2. The Rules of the Race: Mercy triumphs over judgment. With the skill of inspired Scriptures, James reminds his flocks that true religion is visiting the widows and orphans in their distress, by giving food and clothing to those in need, by obeying even hard commands, like Abraham, and by risking all, even life itself, by your allegiances to God, as did Rahab. Spanning from the practical to the noble to the ignoble, the work of faith is measured by mercy, not judgment. Matthew 5:7. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
3. Success is not in avoiding failures, but in recovering from failures and finishing well. No one escapes the bruises of sin, of failures, or missteps, or human frailties in life. Spanning the Old and New Testament, all the heroes of our faith failed at times, often spectacularly. Job comes the closest to no recorded failures, and even Job had his perspective and understanding of God correcting in the end. Job 42. Faith without words justifies us before God; Faith and works justify us before men. The former starts our spiritual pilgrimage. The latter finishes it.
If you have followed us for any length of time, you know how much I love Jesus’ instructions to Peter. After predicting Peter’s denial of Jesus, Jesus consoles him as follows: Luke 22:32. …and when you have recovered, go and strengthen your brethren. Do you see it? It is never too late for you in life. If you are drawing breach, set your life course for finishing the race well. You will join a whole host of saints who have gone before you, with the same goal and, ultimately, crown of life.
– John Moore