I was reading through the first chapter of James today, and the thought came: “That God. He laid out the most perfect ‘self-help plan’ ever. It’s called the Bible.” And then I thought: “What a shame that so many people are floundering about, looking to self-help authors to figure out how to make themselves better people.”
Such a shame when everything you need to live your life is found one place: the Bible.
Now, my Bible is a study Bible. Every six lines (or so) there’s a sidebar or a box filled with fuller explanations of particular verses. Yes, this means my Bible is ginormous in size, but it also helps me to more fully understand certain passages.
There’s a introduction to the Book of James that says James was an unbeliever during Jesus’ ministry. However, after the resurrection, when the Lord revealed Himself to James, James was motivated into action.
The notes mention that James’s writings provide 54 clear commands to readers to let them know how to do what they say they believe.
After all, anyone can be a hearer of something. But, it takes a whole lot more of something—namely faith—to be a doer.
We can’t even get past the second verse without passing a command: “Count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience” (NKJV).
I love these two verses. Not because I love trials. Actually, I hate trials. They’re hard. And, they’re rarely fun. But we can’t grow as godly individuals without trials. We can’t grow without being tested. That’s just the way it is. God said He would give us life and life more abundantly, if we choose to live our lives as He called us to via His Word, the Bible.
God did not say life would be easy. Or, that we’d love every day of our lives. Or, that each day of our lives would be as easy or easier then the day before. No. No, He did not. Trials produce more faith. Testing produces more faith. We are called to live by faith. We are called to endure. And, we are called to overcome. With joy. After all, the joy of the Lord is our strength.
Facing something tough that you’d prefer to grumble about? Don’t. Whatever it is, it’s causing growth. You are growing. And, your harvest is coming.
One of my top five scriptures is just one scripture away, in James 1:5: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (NKJV).
I ask for wisdom every day. Every. Day. Because I need it. And God says He’ll give it to me. I need wisdom to navigate my day. Wisdom to make godly choices. Wisdom to do what’s right. Wisdom to come up with amazing ideas so that I can be a more effective employee. Wisdom to know when to keep my mouth clamped. I need lots of wisdom. And God says He’ll give it to me. I like to think He heaps it on me. Because I ask Him to.
Interestingly, wisdom is one thing that I’m not afraid to ask God for. It’s amazing the things we’re afraid to ask God for. But, that’s another post.
It’s also amazing what God will help us with. Areas we turn to others to help us fix. God wants to fix those areas for us. Impatient? God can fix that. Quick to judge? God can fix that. Financial problems? Try God. Family problems? 1-800-CALL-GOD. Brokenhearted? God can definitely fix that. It’s what He does.
All He asks of us is that we love Him and follow His commands. The rewards are out of this world. Literally.
By the way, read James. His book is full of good stuff. Lots of God-help, which is far more helpful than the self-help Oprah’s O Magazine can supply.