This Sunday morning (April 19th) I will be preaching on the life of Abraham. In the process of preparing for this sermon, I found myself revisiting the book of James. In James 2:21-24, James made reference to Abraham’s attempt to sacrifice his son Issac in order to make a point about the relationship between faith and works. Of course, anyone who has ever been a part of any Bible study that I have taught or led knows that keeping things in context is a priority for me when it comes to studying and teaching the Scriptures. So, as a matter of sticking to good Bible study principles, I took the time to reread the entire letter of James (It’s not that long of a letter!). It’s at this point my ADHD kicked in! (I feel the urge to chase a rabbit right here, but I must stick to the point!)
The point is this: our actions are revealing. If we have true faith, our actions will validate our faith. If we are driven by something other than our faith, our actions will reveal that, too. I’m not trying to suggest that people who have and exercise faith are perfect. Sometimes the “Big Picture” has a few scratches on it! I am suggesting, however, that our actions taken as a whole reveal our true nature. We can and should expect “hiccups” along the way as we strive to live according to our faith, but we must remember that hiccups are normal and we do what we must in order to get over them as quickly as possible. Anyone who has ever held his or her breath in an attempt to end a bout of hiccups knows this to be true! Well, as with the hiccups, when our actions for one reason or another are unbecoming of our faith, we must do all that is necessary to bring them back in line with our faith.
Okay, I am about to circle back around to the main point now: actions are revealing. In preparing for Sunday mornings sermon, as I made my way through the book of James, I was a little surprised to discover how closely the sermon about Abraham, the letter of James, AND last Wednesday night’s Bible study from the book of Deuteronomy are related. Last Wednesday evening in Deuteronomy, we discussed how the character of God was/is revealed through relationships. Our discussion focused mainly on the ideas of justice, fairness, and grace. I would love to go in depth about the study, but I will refrain for the purpose of writing a blog article and not a book. Suffice it to say, it is clearly taught in Deuteronomy that God wants us to be concerned with being fair to one another, but the whole counsel of God’s word calls us to go even beyond that. According to Jesus, those who show mercy receive mercy, and those who forgive are forgiven. There is something else about the teachings of Jesus that comes to my mind, though it might seem unrelated to all that I’ve written so far.
Character Revealed through Speech
In Matthew 15:15-20, Jesus was responding to his disciples’ request to explain the parable he had told in Matthew 15:11. In His explanation, Jesus taught that a person’s true nature – his heart – would be revealed in his speech. Now, it is true that there are many in our world today who talk a good talk, so to speak. However, not everyone who has the right talk has a right heart as well. Believe me, I have pondered this problem for much of my adult life. In my experience, I have found that it can be very easy to figure out who the actors are! No, I’m not judging! Don’t whip out the old “You can’t judge me!” argument. That argument is not found in Scripture, but is the result of a misunderstanding, misinterpretation, and/ or the misuse of Scripture. Furthermore, it is usually used by people who know they are in the wrong and feel exposed or “backed into a corner.” So, here it is: when you “push someone’s buttons,” the true nature gets revealed in a hurry! Let me say that another way. If you have an extremely sore spot on your body and someone puts pressure on that spot, you are going to react! That reaction is telling! A little pressure on the wrong spot is painful and will make you scream. The same is true with our spiritual life. When the “pressure is on,” our response will let everyone know what’s on the inside.
Evidence of a Relationship with Christ
In John 13:34-35, Jesus says very clearly that how we relate to one another reveals the presence (or absence) of a relationship with Him. If we show love to one another – a Christlike, sacrificial, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 kind of love – then we are demonstrating our relationship with Christ, because we are demonstrating His character in our own lives. So, let me challenge you to take a look at all of your relationships and see if your actions and attitudes mirror the character of Christ. If you find a few “hiccups,” then get rid of them and get back to normal. If you find that the “hiccups” ARE the norm, then you have a problem that can only be properly solved when you get your heart right with God in accordance with His word.
Now, to the one who knows the right thing to do……….