A Child of God is a Living Bible
Some people are concerned over the "rash" of many new Bible translations" that have appeared in recent years. They wonder which version is most reliable and which is closest to the original.
These questions open the door to endless rounds of passionate debate. Some feel so strongly about the reliability and accuracy of the King James Version, that they view those who read any other translation as being virtual apostates headed straight to hell.
On one occasion when three clergymen were arguing on this matter, a fourth man remained noticeably silent as the debate unabatedly raged on. When he was eventually asked for his opinion he said, "I like my motherís translation best."
"Your mother translated the Bible?" He was asked in surprise. "Oh yes," he replied. "She translated it into life. It is the most convincing version I have ever come across!"
I can almost hear James saying "Amen" to this poignant reply. Many have no time to look at any written version of the Bible but almost everyone is impressed by the truth of Godís Word when it is lived out in the character and conduct of a truly earnest child of God. To use Jamesí words, "such a one is bent on being a doer of the Word and not a hearer only. (James 1:22).
How do you figure that you measure up to this admonition by James? Be careful how you respond, for we must all acknowledge the fact that "the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wickedÖ" (Jeremiah 17:9) Sometimes we actually get caught up in fooling ourselves to think otherwise. Isnít this true?!
What comes to mind when you think of the idea of being a "doer" of the Word? I find it interesting and very significant that the examples which James cites (verses 26f), are grass roots in character. He doesnít talk about teaching an adult Bible class, leading a choir, pastoring a church or carrying the Gospel to some far off land. No, none of these high profile positions get any mention. James instead tells us to be careful in what we say.
Words Can Cause Great Hurt
Faith, that has substance in the sight of God (vs 27), is that which is found in a person who keeps a tight rein on his tongue(vs26). It is caught up in such practical ministries as that of caring for orphans and widows in their distress. Faith allows us to shut-out the contamination of the world and keeps us pure.
Now the tongue is the very focal point of the third chapter of James where he warns us that words can cause great hurt. I am absolutely certain that in any given year, unkind words are the root cause of the destruction of more lives than those that fall victim to guns, knives and knuckles.
So let us all be careful of what we say.
Remember as youngsters the expression, "sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me"? Nonsense! This expression is an outright lie! A dangerous lie.
As living Bibles, what words come out of your "version"? Are they words that accurately and reliably reflect those of a Holy Spirit-filled Christian? If they are not beloved, then place your faith in the Lord to give you the power to restrain your tongue. He will enable you to be a "doer" but only if you place your trust in His enabling power. How often we forget this unfailing truth!
Do not be discouraged if you have failed in this regard. Godís reclamation project on you usually does not happen overnight. Trust in Him. Let the Lord use you as an example of making the impossible possible.
Faith Produces True Godly Works
The ability to restrain our tongues by the enabling power of the Holy Spirit by faith, is just one example in which faith affects our works. True Godly works do not come from us. They are the result of our faith in God to make them happen. And all of this faith is supplied by the Lord. (Romans 12:3)
The passage of James that we are studying this morning voices the Lordís concern that we do not neglect the practical dimensions of our faith.
Some have tragically misinterpreted the meaning of this essential passage of scripture to assume that salvation comes by works. This controversy is not new, in fact, at the time of determining what should and should not make up the cannon of Scripture, there were those who argued that the book of James was teaching salvation by works and should therefore be excluded. Had these individuals succeeded, we would have lost an essential dimension in understanding the true meaning of works. And this understanding is as follows: