Summary: Taking this popular mantra and applying it to James 1:12, the message brings to light how thin and shallow this approach to life really is.
How to Do Life
What’s In It for ME?
* (Show the title on the screen.) Please read this phrase with me (read). Last week I Googled this phrase and returned 414,000,000 hits. We live in a “What’s in it for me (WIIFM)” culture. It begins with people’s approach to government which only infringes on our community, infests our homes, invades our lives, and infects our churches. Today, people make their choices on this mantra. Sadly, the vision of today’s people is somewhat limited & skewed.
* A person is trying to decide what church to attend, so they get a checklist of ministries to make sure that this church has everything they want. To be fair, many pray about this check list. Yet, what appears on list that we make reveal something of our limited vision because, for the most part, the list includes only things which hold meaning while on this earth. Small Groups, people my age or stage, music, & sweet fellowship, are but just a few of the listings. Consider what happens when that person joins & finds HIS or HER ‘thing’ is not what they thought it was. What happens?
* Another person attempts to make a decision about what religion or belief system to embrace. This time their listings may be different but their focus is the same, “What’s in it for me?” I suggest that for the person who has decided to find a belief system which ‘fits what they want’ is one which is man-made. It seems to be true that every religion has a group which is a soft target. Some religions appeal to young people, some to ladies, some to men, some to the down & outs; again sadly, the very reason these people are attracted to specific groups are, in large measure about “me & mine.”
* Today, I want us to look through the eyes (& words) of God to discover, “What is in it for me?” What is it that God wants to give me? (Text)
1. Your Call to Life – God calls us to have & possess a blessed life. That is His desire for you and me. Verse 12 in the HCSB reads, “Blessed is a man” while more translations read “Blessed is THE man.” However, the NRSV makes it clear when it read, “Blessed is anyone.” This calls us to recognize that God’s grace & love reaches to ‘whosoever will.’ Any time a preacher says, “Whosoever will”, the question which comes to the mind of some is whosoever will “what?” Hold that thought and we’ll revisit it in a second. Another rendering of the word “Blessed” in the New Testament is the word “Happy.” While the use of ‘happy’ seems to be a bit shallow for the life blessed of God, the concept speaks to the heart of the 21st century American. American are spending billions of dollars seeking ‘happiness’ and while money won’t buy happiness, it will take us a lot of place ‘looking for it.’ Sadly, as a general rule, money carries us in the wrong direction, looking at the wrong things, and wasting our resources.
* God desire is for you & me to be blessed & happy in this life. He didn’t create us to make us miserable or bored. Think about the words in Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. He began speaking to people about how to be blessed and how to find happiness. He wanted us to know the joys of God’s blessing, so He began, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, who morn, & those who are meek.” Their blessing is that they will be comforted; they will inherit both the earth and the heaven. Our call to life is to be blessed in ways we cannot even imagine. How does the response to this call work? If God is calling us to life, exactly how does this come about?
2. Your Circumstances in Life – What circumstances are we told about? We are told about trials, troubles, test, and even tribulations. James begun with the words “count it pure joy when you fall into various trials.” We learn from James that every one of us has trials, conflict, difficulties, and that these are a part of a normal life. The sobering truth is this; trials are coming, and it’s not so much the number of trials we have or even what those trials are, it is more about ‘what we do when trials come our way.‘ Many people who get decimated by the least little thing which shows an unrealistic view of life. Honestly, most of the folks who very easily anger are those who expect everything to go their way and expect no trouble.
* What do you do with your troubles? For instance, when people get married they unrealistically expect everything to be peaches and cream. Candidly, when the first struggle comes along many find themselves wanting to throw peaches (or something harder) at each other while pouring cream (or sour milk) on the head of their lovely mate. When trouble come in life, like in marriage, we have 3 choices; we can get out (that means we run), we can tough it out (that literally means to “fight”), or we can work it out (which means seek to discover God’s hand in the struggle). Make no mistake, this third option is foreign to our humanistic thinking and is contrary to our natural response. It is not tough, it is downright impossible outside of a life in God. Whatever struggle you are in right now, does not surprise God. What you may think is terrible, God may have sent your way to give you something terrific. Watch the flow of the verse. It says, “Blessed is a man who ‘endures’ trials, because when he passes the test.” This is a test? The KJV says, ‘when he is tried’ while the NAS says ‘when he is approved.’