There was something that I wanted to add in the last blog, but it was getting long as it was, so I decided to put it here.
One thing that I have been trying very carefully to do is to make clear that maturity and completion as a Christian takes time. One does not become a perfect Christian the day he or she is saved.
Abraham certainly wasn’t. I talked yesterday about how his faith was made complete with his putting of Isaac on the altar. But he did struggle with this faith a lot up until that point. We saw that with his sleeping with his wife’s slave Hagar. We also see it in Genesis 20 where he lied to a king named Abimelech, saying Sarah was his sister (technically true, she was his half-sister, but not the whole truth) because he was afraid Abimelech would kill him in order to take Sarah.
I say all this to make two points.
First, I have challenged you to think about your faith. And it would be easy for you to focus on your failures, and say, “Maybe I’m not really saved at all. After all, I still don’t see all the fruit of love in my life I should have, and I still fail in so many ways.”
But that’s not my intention nor was it James’. The people we are challenging are those who claim it is possible to be a Christian, and simply live the way that they want to. The people who say, “I have faith, you have deeds,” as if there were no connection whatsoever between the two.
But as we have seen, there is a connection. True faith in God always leads to a change in life. Because if you truly have seen his love for you in the cross of Christ, and you truly do love him for that, then you will naturally want to do the things that please him.
The question I would ask you if you’re questioning your faith is this: “Do you really love God. Do you have a burning desire to please him?”
If you can say yes, then I wouldn’t worry too much about you, because change will happen. Like I said, it may be hard and it may be painful. But it will happen.
Second, I think we need to be very careful about judging those who we feel are not changing “fast enough.”
People grow at different paces. And while actions often show the state of the heart, you know as well I do that it’s not a perfect measure. Some people look really good, but in their hearts are not right before God. On the other hand, other people may seem hypocritical, but when they are at home in their room before God, they are crying out, “God why am I this way? Forgive me. Help me.”
The only people whose faith we should be questioning are those people who blatantly don’t seem to care about becoming godly. Who always make excuses when they hear the Word of God and reject any rebuke for their actions on the basis that they are “saved by faith alone.”
These are the people that I’m challenging, and I believe James is too.