Through His Eyes…

James 2:1-13 (NLT)

For example, suppose someone comes into your meeting dressed in fancy clothes and expensive jewelry, and another comes in who is poor and dressed in dirty clothes. 3 If you give special attention and a good seat to the rich person, but you say to the poor one, “You can stand over there, or else sit on the floor”—well, 4 doesn’t this discrimination show that your judgments are guided by evil motives? (James 2:2-4 NLT)

How often have I stopped at an intersection because of a red light and seen a panhandler working the intersection looking for “donations” to his/her cause and gone into “lockdown” mode – locking the car doors and looking straight ahead daring NOT to look them in the eyes? It has happened often. Yet as I read this passage today, that’s the first picture I got. The second picture I got – immediately behind the first – is the same intersection but Firemen working the intersection looking for a donation to his/her cause. In this scenario, I react totally opposite. If I have loose change, I give it to them. I always smile and wave at the fireman, even if I don’t have anything to give.

Why? Exactly this verse. I am judging the person by their exterior. Yes, our culture today and often the intersections have something to do with how “safe” I feel for me and my family, but if I’m honest, it is no different than James 2:2-4.

It’s not just with such drastic differences either. I know myself. It is just as easy for me to show favoritism (a really nice way of saying ‘being prejudice’ or judging) to those ‘of significance.’ For example, given the opportunity to meet Stephen Curtis Chapman or the dude on the 3rd row of the 2nd service at church, guess where my attention is going to be?

Is the fireman any different than the beggar in the eyes of God? Is Stephen Curtis Chapman any better than the guy at church in the eyes of God? Am I any different or any better than any of them in the eyes of God?

Nope. Actually, the answer is a resounding ‘NO!’

It goes on an on. It could just as easily relate to those with whom we have a common interest versus those we don’t; those who are easy to get along with versus those it is a struggle to have conversation with; those who are obnoxious versus those who are fun; boring versus exciting; pretty versus ugly; it really doesn’t matter in God’s eyes.

His eyes – His vision – His perspective is the only one that counts. It’s the only thing that matters. James 2:5-14 go on to make that exact point. We are all sinners. We have all broken His law. We have all fallen short of His glory (Romans 3:23).

James 2:14-26

Originally, I thought this was unrelated, but it is not. My actions (my deeds) define my faith. If I have no deeds, I have no faith because it is dead. A dead faith is not a faith at all. Faith – true, living, vibrant faith in God – produces actions/deeds that are driven by my faith. I don’t choose the action, I just choose to be obedient to God’s directive. This is the example of Abraham placing Issac on the altar. God directed his actions and because of his faith, he obeyed.

I know people who let their actions drive their faith. It a natural extension of their ‘religion’. Actions do not create faith. Faith isn’t motivated by actions. Faith isn’t driven or created by actions / deeds / “do and don’t” commands. This kind of faith is a Works-Based faith, which the Lord clearly speaks about in Romans 4:1-5 (The Message):

So how do we fit what we know of Abraham, our first father in the faith, into this new way of looking at things? If Abraham, by what he did for God, got God to approve him, he could certainly have taken credit for it. But the story we’re given is a God-story, not an Abraham-story. What we read in Scripture is, “Abraham entered into what God was doing for him, and that was the turning point. He trusted God to set him right instead of trying to be right on his own. If you’re a hard worker and do a good job, you deserve your pay; we don’t call your wages a gift. But if you see that the job is too big for you, that it’s something only God can do, and you trust him to do it—you could never do it for yourself no matter how hard and long you worked—well, that trusting-him-to-do-it is what gets you set right with God, by God. Sheer gift.

The deception in that kind of thinking – that kind of ‘religion’ – is that instead of actions being directed BY God, they are directed AT God. Minor words… MAJOR difference!

How I view others is just one “deed” that needs to change.

Dad, today let me see others through Your eyes, Your perspective today. Destroy the preconceived ideas I have about people that color my vision and skew my attitudes towards them. Replace them with your perfect love today. In that perfect love, drive my actions to those things that bring you Glory. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.

Deception abounds

James 1; Romans 14

Romans 14:12-15:6 talks about what one person does (or doesn’t do) to honor the Lord vs. what another person does or doesn’t do. We shouldn’t judge the actions of another because we are “more spiritually mature” than they are.

[It would be interesting to continue down this thought and compare it to “let the little children come unto me” – something I may do in the near future.]

We are to live our lives in a way that doesn’t make another stumble. Being aware of how our actions could affect another person’s walk is the marching order given. The deception comes when we are concerned about what another person thinks.

Hebrews 10:24 (NIV) 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.

James 1:7-8 (NLT) references those people who ask God, but their faith isn’t completely in God alone. The deception referenced in v7-8 is that of expectations. The expectation that God is a genie and will give me what I ask, period; that I can control God – to some degree. Verse 8 says “Their loyalty is divided between God and the world…” and goes on to describe their instability in EVERYTHING THEY DO.

I am becoming a firm believer in uncovering any deception I may believe… asking Father to reveal anything that I believe that is not in line with His Word and His Truth.

New Clothes

James 4:1-4 (NIV) What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. 4 You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.

OK. The Lord must be trying to get my attention. This is the third day in a row where the word desire (that which conceives temptation – James 1) is highlighted. I’m guessing this is important. As I’ve postulated, what I desire is based on what I believe, which is where the enemy can deceive me – by “misinformation” of what is good, right, and scriptural.

James 1 warns that desire leads to temptation. James 4 tells us it will do more than that. It will lead to quarrels and fights; coveting; stealing; murder – those are all from verse 2. Verse 3 says it can lead to our own pride and a dismissing of God for provision for aide, for whatever we need, or that we’ll try to manipulate God to give us what we “want” under the guise of something else. Wow! Talk about being deceived… to think that we can outsmart the One who created us! How foolish is that! Verse 4 says that we will befriend the world – the creation – in lieu of the Creator.  And in God’s deal, you can’t be friends to both… We  are called to stand on one side or the other.  We can’t sit on the fence.  We’re either for God or againt Him.  That’s not a decision I want to make in the midst of being deceived… in the midst of unholy desires.

Deception, desires… bad stuff.

By no accident (thank you Lord) I also read Romans 13 today in my attempt to continue in Romans. Check out the this verse. Here is the antidote to errant desires.

Rom 13:14 (ESV) But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

What the ESV translates as “put on” literally means to clothe myself in Jesus Christ. My question then becomes… what does that look like? How do I clothe myself in Christ? By living out Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Daddy, I die to myself today.  I die to my desire.  I die to everything I “think”.  I die to my flesh, my mind, my soul.  I ask you to take control and live today for me.  Put my flesh on like a suit and walk around in me today so that those around me see, feel, and hear Jesus, not Bryan.  In Jesus’ Name, let it be.

Teacher Beware

James 3:1 Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.

In my last post, I said that deception starts in the mind. Deception is believing something that is errant to the Word of God. When the devil tempted Jesus, he used scripture. When the serpent led Eve into deception, he twisted – just ever so slightly – the word spoken by God.

No wonder James warns those who teach! How important it is to teach absolute truth that is 100% in line with what the Word teaches, else those being taught could believe something not exactly lined up with Scripture and the teacher could lead them in to deception.

Dad, I pray that anything I ever teach anyone, my kids, others around me, whomever you put in my sphere of influence – my prayer is that my teaching is based soley on Your Word, Your thoughts and none of my own.