TODAY MAKES A DIFFERENCE
I recently finished reading a book by Michael Hyatt titled, "Your Best Year Ever". In his book, Mr. Hyatt outlines a 5-step plan for achieving your most important goals. An interesting fact he lists is how many people actually don't achieve their goals.
One question I had while reading this book is "How does this relate to our spiritual journey in the Lord?" I don't think any of us, when we faithfully obey the gospel of Christ, intend to fall away or not complete the goal that the Lord has set before us: that of living a faithful life in Him. Unfortunately, the reality is that many will not complete the "race set before us" (ref. Heb. 12: 1-4).
Today makes a difference! What can we do today that will help us in maintaining and reaching our goal as Christians? How can we run the race faithfully so that we can hear the words "Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.” (ref. Matt. 25: 23).
In the book of James, I believe we find some very practical steps we can take today to help us live faithfully in the Lord.
JAMES 1: 19-25 (New King James Version)
"So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore lay aside all filthiness
and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does."
Looking at the text, we can find at least three practical steps we can take today in helping us live faithfully to the Lord.
1. Lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness.
Sin can be very deceptive and sin will corrupt our hearts. I think in many ways today we as Christians have become comfortable, or at least, causal with sin. Do we really view sin as God does? The things we put before our eyes, the language and conversations we engage in, the attitudes we harbor in our hearts. So often we attempt to justify our thoughts and actions rather than viewing them the way the Lord does. We are told that God cannot look upon wickedness (ref. Habakkuk 1:13). That God is light and in Him is no darkness at all (ref. 1 John 1: 5). For us to be restored and forgiven of our sin, it cost the life and blood of our Lord and Savior (ref. Col. 1: 20). How comfortable are we with sin? Have we casually allowed sin a home in our hearts? Today, to help us in remaining faithful in the Lord, we can identify the sin hiding in our hearts and in our lives and lay them aside.
2. Allow God's Word to Grow
In (James 1: 21b) we are to "receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls." These words express an attitude we are to have with regard to the word of the Lord. We are to receive His word with meekness. We can read God's word simply looking for the facts, reading His word to make or prove "our" points. Receiving His word with meekness is to receive His word in humility. It is to allow His word to shape our attitudes, actions, and understanding as opposed to our understandings and attitudes influencing the way we read and understand God's word.
His word is to be "implanted" in our hearts. I am reminded of the parable of the Sower, as told by Jesus in (Matt. 13). Jesus says "But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” (Matt. 13: 23). It is only in "good soil" that the word of God can grow. Just as with any flower or vegetable garden, soil that has been prepared will produce the best fruit. We need to "cultivate the soil of our heart". A heart cultivated will provide a soil in which the word of God can grow in our lives. Today, we can allow God's word to grow in our lives by preparing our hearts to receive His word.
3. Practice His Word
A third step we can take in helping us remain faithful in the Lord is to practice God's word. It's not enough to be "hearers" only. I remember football practice when I was younger. We went over and over our plays, time and time again, walking through them, then practicing them at full speed. The point of this practice was so that we could perform at game time without having to stop and think about where we were to go or what we were to do next. In (James 1: 23) hearing the word of the Lord only without practicing His word is compared to a person who looks in a mirror and goes away immediately forgetting what they look like (ref. James 1: 23, 24). If we fail to put the word of the Lord into practice, it will be of little use. Unless God's word transforms our heart and our lives, it will not produce the effect that God desires for us. When we practice His word, we are allowing His word to shape and influence our lives. In the practice of His word, we will be blessed in what we do (ref. James 1: 25).
Today makes a difference! As Christians, we each should have the goal of seeing our Lord face to face, of being with Him for all eternity, and hearing the words "Well done, good and faithful servant" (ref. Matt. 25: 23). We can achieve this goal by taking small steps each day. James provides us with some very practical steps we can take. He provides us with the steps to begin a faithful journey. Are you ready to take your next steps today?