by Charity Pence
This Week's Verse: "Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall." Proverbs 16:18 (KJV)
I love the book of James. There are only five chapters, yet the book of James is filled with several great lessons. One day as I was reading, God placed on my heart a lesson that is so true and so necessary to be shared. It is a lesson I believe we all need to hear.
We call ourselves Christians, right? We find comfort in that. We believe Christ died for our sins, we accept Jesus into our hearts, and we're saved. Hallelujah! And we're done, right? We know who wins in the end, and now we're on the winning team. But are we really part of the team? Last time I checked, being part of a team did not mean standing on the sidelines, watching others do their part while we slack off. Webster's dictionary defines "team" this way: a group of people working together. Working together.
I believe there is a danger in declaring ourselves Christians while doing nothing to back up that claim. Sometimes we are even proud of ourselves for becoming a Christian. But becoming a Christian requires much more than hollow words. James 1:22-27 says, "We deceive ourselves by saying we are Christians if we do not conduct ourselves as such. We have to be doers." (NKJ) The danger I mentioned comes in many forms. You see, if we were part of God's winning team, we would act in such ways that drew others to our Savior Jesus Christ. Instead, we tell the world we're Christians while gossiping, lashing out in anger, using vulgar language, telling crude jokes. We're filling our hearts and minds with movies and/or activities that increase our lust for things God does not desire for us. And all the while, the world is watching. People are watching with diligence, waiting for an opportunity to point their fingers and cry "Foul!"
Sometimes I swear when really angry. I don't do it often, but that doesn't matter. There is one word that pops out of my mouth; it's always the same one. And it's ugly. Some people who know me find it amusing. "Ha ha, she just cussed!" I laugh it off with them, but you know what? Inside I cringe. I am filled with shame. Because I confess to be a Christian, and I worry about the damage I have just done to God's kingdom. Those people who are watching me, waiting, will not see Jesus in my behavior. My actions may even offer proof for their belief that we're all a bunch of hypocrites. And instead of showing others the way to God's team, I may be leading them to their eternal destruction.
Perhaps you think I'm being extreme. We all make mistakes. We don't always get it right. We repent and move on, as we should. There are many verses throughout the Bible which assure us of God's forgiveness. Here are two. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:9 (KJV) "As far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed our transgressions from us." Psalm 103:12 (KJV)
However, sin is never okay. Forgiveness isn't necessary unless someone has been wronged. And in our cases, we are wronging our Heavenly Father. We should be reaching others for Christ, not turning them away from Him. It would be easy to say we're saved because we declare with our mouths that we have accepted Jesus as our Savior. But James 2:14 says, "What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?" (NKJ)
I have been convicted. I hope you have too. Please do not deceive yourselves by thinking you are safe over there on the sidelines, out of the action. Be more than words. Be doers of the Word.
Dear Heavenly Father, I deceive myself by saying I am a Christian while not striving to live in a way that brings me and others close to you. It is so easy to make this mistake. I acknowledge how wrong I have been. Please forgive me. I thank You for your mercy. Please continue to convict me, Lord, so that I will not be a speaker of hollow words. Help me to be a doer- to follow Your command to Love others and show them the way to Your kingdom. In Jesus' most precious name, Amen.
Luke 16:15 "And he said unto them, ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God. (KJV)
John 5:44 "How can you believe, who receive honor from one another, and do not seek the honor that comes from the only God?" (NKJ)
Romans 12:21 "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." (NKJ)