JAMES 1: HOW TO BE BLESSED
Someone once described our life here on Planet Earth, like the days of the week. So, if we expect at least 70 years in this life[a], then…
Sunday would be my first decade before my 10th birthday;
Monday = my second decade before my 20th birthday;
Tuesday would be my third decade before my 30th birthday;
Wednesday = the forth decade before my 40th birthday;
Thursday = my fifth decade before my 50th birthday;
Friday = my sixth decade before my 60th birthday; and…
Saturday would be my seventh decade before my 70th birthday
For centuries, everyone knew that anything beyond 70 years was, and still is, a “blessing”. Some of us are lucky to live through a Sunday again. Others get another Monday but few of us would ever get another Tuesday.
So, looking at life in this way, brought home to me just how far I’ve come. I’m already halfway through Friday with only a day and half left to live. So with the end firmly in sight, how will I live through my last “36 hours”? Well, it’s chapters like today’s that make me look again at my life-map, and recalibrate my compass.
To begin with, this letter is written by James, the brother of Jesus and he’s calling me his sister! [v1] This, in itself, is a special starting block, to launch out from as I run my last two laps. He also starts his letter on a realistic note. Having lost his older brother in such a brutal way, he’s aware that this world doesn’t just bring us a few rocky patches – it’s saturated with “trials of many kinds”. [v2] But what’s completely “upside down” here, is that he’s telling me to embrace what I face (both good and bad) by considering it “pure joy”. Not because I’m a mindless religious idiot, but because testing produces perseverance [v3] and perseverance (when its finished its work within me) produces maturity and completeness so that I’m lacking in nothing.
“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” [v12]
How many of us would want to reach mid-night on Saturday night (when the clock strikes twelve and our number’s up) not just feeling complete or even “blessed”, but actually being declared “complete and lacking nothing” [v4] by the One who made us to be like Him. Yet how is this at all possible, when past evidence proves otherwise?
Today’s chapter reveals four “keys” to the treasure map…
The Source. Getting divine wisdom for my life-journey – from the birds-eye perspective of the One who designed my map and everything on it – is critical. Then, like any sea captain with shipping charts; driver in a car with a GPS; or soldier with coordinates in an open desert, I’m to trust and not doubt. [v5-8]
The Starting Point. Every shopping centre or theme park map marks out the spot “You Are Here”. Without that pointed out, we won’t know the direction to start walking in. So, not to put me down, or puff me up, Father God points out where I’m at in life so that (from where I’m standing) He can point me in the way I’m to go …from here. [v9-11]
The Obstacles. Next, is the journey itself. Looking over my life-journey, I can see uneven ground, dead-ends, wasted circles, and “crash’n’burn” moments that I’m embarrassed about. But with so much life experience behind me now, I’m determined to use the remaining time I have, in such a way that I finish my race proud and not ashamed. For this to happen, I need to take ownership over the obstacles and stop “passing the buck” or blaming God for every bad thing I’ve experienced. [v13-14] This is particularly critical for understanding where I’m going to end up – especially if I don’t take serious the incredibly powerful warnings on my Maker’s guide-map. [v15]
The Destination. The “Father of the Heavenly Lights” has produced a guidebook that shines light on my path[b] and, He’s not like shifting shadows. [v17] He chose to give me a birthday and a life, for a specific reason. [v18]
Today’s portion of this 1st Century letter written by Jesus’ brother, gives me several things to think about. These will not just help me navigate the remaining section of the maze that I’m in (surviving what’s left of my life, like navigating a minefield), it’ll actually lead me to what many of us dream of, yet expect we’ll never experience – the key to how I can be “blessed”.
First, I need to be quick to think/listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry [v19] – in thought, in word and in deed. [v21] Then, if I listen along the way, and act accordingly [v22-24]; if I control my tongue at every turn [v26]; and, if my daily lifestyle choices show that I’m following my Maker’s guide-map [v27] – looking intently into the perfect law that gives freedom (continuing in it daily like a GPS for LIFE, and not forgetting what I’ve heard, but doing it), at every turn, at every cross-roads, at every downhill run, or uphill climb, then I’ll be truly “blessed” in all that I do. [v25] Now that’s pretty cool!!
CLICK to return to today’s “Daily Breadcrumbs”
[a] Psalm 90:10
[b] Psalm 119:105