After the Resurrection, Jesus spent 40 days with His disciples. But why? It was at the beginning of that 40 days that Jesus opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. (Luke 24:45) For over the 3 years the disciples had traveled with Jesus and watched His ministry, they had been collecting puzzle pieces. But it wasn’t until He opened their minds that all the puzzle pieces came together and they saw and understood the big picture.
You’ve been around them too…people who are all talk and no action. They may speak eloquently and have great ideas…but they lack followup and dedication to actually get the work done. They make a lot of noise, but that’s all. Paul is showing us here that it’s the love of Christ in our hearts that make the difference between just making noise and changing the world for Him.
In this verse God was confronting the nation of Judah. For they had been practicing religious festivals of their own design in direct rebellion against Him. In other words, they were taking God’s Word – adding and twisting it to fit their own desires and notions. Kinda sounds like religion today where God’s Word has been spun and misinterpreted to become more politically correct and not offensive anyone. But man’s job is not to reinterpret God’s Word in order to make everyone feel better. Man’s job simply is to obey what God has already written.
Think back a moment to your “BC” days. (Before Christ) Maybe you had heard about Jesus, but He was far from what you wanted in your life back then. You were content to be in charge…doing things your own way. But in your rebellion you were also alienated from God…spiritually dead and blithely headed to Hell. It was while you were still estranged from God that He reconciled you to Himself through Christ. (II Corinthians 5:18-19) It was while you were still in rebellion that Jesus redeemed you… taking on Himself your sins that you may have a right relationship with God…and eternal life. The bottom line is…long before you were thinking about God…He was thinking about you.
Adam was made of the dust of the earth, for in Genesis 2:7 it tells us, “The Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being.” Now this shows just how fragile we are, for without God intentionally filling our lungs with breath day in and day out, we are just a lifeless being. And when there’s no longer that spark of life within…our body returns to where we came.
James, the oldest half-brother of Jesus, was telling us here we should demonstrate our inward faith by outward actions. So it’s basically the difference between having living faith or lifeless faith. Between just giving lip-service to the needs we see around us or actually jumping in to help others. A few verses later James adds to this, “You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.” (James 2:24) So in the life of a Believer, faith and deeds must go hand in hand…there is not one without the other…and so in this lies the big difference between living and lifeless faith.
In God, we have a good, good Father. A heavenly Father that wants only the very best for His children. So as Followers of Christ, we too should affirm the good in others. For if we have willingly and freely accepted the Lord’s invitation of salvation into our lives…we need to live out to the best of our ability His example. For there’s enough negativity already in the world today…but Believers can change that by simply seeing and affirming the good in others.