How the Christian Walk Compares with the Talk
The Christian walk is really about character, not catechism. Nowhere is this fact presented more powerfully than in the Epistle of James which Stuart E. Lease, D.D. college professor and pastor, describes as:
- ethics versus religion
- living versus learning
- walk versus talk.
Every Christian should take his letter personally and evaluate how they measure up to real Christianity.
Following, are six of questions quoted from James' letter in the New Living Translation. The questions deal with issues which may disprove Christianity in the life of Christians. Why do they exhibit these behaviors? When will they ever learn?
What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? (4:1)
Christians fighting among themselves is the most un-Christian conduct; and James explains why it happens. At the core of their being, some Christians are still selfish, still anxious to satisfy their lusts. Their self-centeredness controls them.
They lie, backbite, insult, threaten, compete and instigate fights to get what they want. Well, are they still Christians? They confuse Christians and non-Christians alike. When their desire for God and godliness supersedes every other desire, they will stop fighting. They will be loving and supportive.
What a great impact Christianity could have if Christians put their personal peeves aside and focus on uniting to represent Christ!
God alone, who gave the law, is the Judge. He alone has the power to save or to destroy. So what right do you have to judge your neighbor? (4:12)
It is so easy to judge, that people—especially Christians—do it all the time.
The problem is that human knowledge is limited. People judge the actions they see; God judges intentions which only He could see. His judgment considers the maturity of the person, how the past affects his conduct, to what extent his fears drive him or hold him back. Who can judge correctly without being privy to this type of information?
James says that criticizing and judging other people is criticizing and judging God (4:11). What a serious charge! It is wise to back off and let God be God. His grace which is working on behalf of the judging Christian is working on the behalf of everyone else.
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, doesn’t this discrimination show that your judgments are guided by evil motives? (2:3, 4)
Jesus loved and respected people equally. He showed compassion to the children when His disciples would have turned them away; He affirmed women when other people thought He was wasting time; He hung out with sinners when church leaders thought that He was making a mistake.
Christ’s followers know better than to consider one person less than the other because of social status, skin color, disability or neighborhood. James says it clearly: “But if you favor some people over others, you are committing a sin.”(2:9)
It is a shame that while people who profess no godliness have overcome prejudice, some Christians still need to learn the equal value of the people God made!
Look here, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.” How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? (4:13, 14)
Imagine planning the week’s schedule without involving God! This is not a bashing against self-confidence or positive thinking, but about denying the need for God.
After some people experience success, they forget that the ability to succeed comes from God. They begin to boast of what they can achieve based on what they have already done. The Christian should never become so self-assured.
In his everyday affairs—at home, at school, at work, at play, the Christian walk must match his talk of humility and complete surrender to God. This is the attitude that glorifies God instead of self.
What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? (2:14)
Hypocrisy is profession without practice. No wonder, James insists that the Christian’s life must show evidence of his faith. He has been criticized by some Bible scholars who think that he is undermining Paul’s teaching that “a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.” (Romans 3:28)
However, James cites the examples of Abraham and Rahab whose works did not justify them, but demonstrated the faith by which they were justified. “So you see,” James offers, “faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.”
”Faith is the root, good works are the fruits” ”states the Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary. Christian attitudes and actions are expected to express without words, “I will show you my faith by my good deeds.” (2: 17, 18)
You adulterous people, don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? (4:4)
Bible commentaries advise that James is not accusing his audience of actual sexual sin. He labels them adulterous because they, “instead of loving God, whom they ought to love with all their hearts and souls, set their affections upon the world, and the things of it.”
This is not about shunning people who do not share the same faith; it is about making it clear whose side they are on. “Submit to God,” James warns (4: 7, 8) and be not double-minded. There may be damaging compromise if:
- If a Christian can spend a day without personal devotion and not miss it;
- If she does not crave and enjoy fellowship with godly people;
- If her worldly friends claim her as part of their crowd;
- If people express surprise when she says that she is a Christian;
- If there is a whispering in her conscience which frustrates her.
Where Do We Start?
Christian Conduct Poll
Which of these behaviors do you think presents the greatest struggle for the Christian?
"Many feel that it would be a great privilege to visit the scenes of Christ's life on earth, to walk where He trod, to look upon the lake beside which He loved to teach, and the hills and valleys on which His eyes so often rested. But we need not go to Nazareth, to Capernaum, or to Bethany, in order to walk in the steps of Jesus.
"We shall find His footprints beside the sickbed, in the hovels of poverty, in the crowded alleys of the great city, and in every place where there are human hearts in need of consolation. In doing as Jesus did when on earth, we shall walk in His steps." - Ellen White