“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” (John 14:15)
Jesus says that those who love Him will prove it. Simply professing, “I love Jesus,” is not enough because the tongue has a tendency to be fooled. What doesn’t lie is the fruit of our lives. The fruit we produce (our speech and our actions) are a product of what we truly believe.
“This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far away from Me.” (Matthew 15:8)
Yet, keeping Jesus’ commandments simply out of duty without love for Him and His will is not enough. This is called trying to work your way into heaven or trying to be saved by works.
“The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (1John 4:8)
The true Christian image involves the right motivation (love) AND the right actions (obedience).
A fruit tree that bears no fruit is useless. “Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself” (James 2:17). There’s something wrong with a faith that doesn’t produce obedience. Faith is always proven.
True contentment is not based on our circumstances. It is based on the condition of our hearts, the outcome of our reasoning. True contentment is learned. If our contentment is derived from our environment, then we endanger ourselves when we find too little to live for. But if our contentment is founded on an eternal promise, we will find that we have so much to suffer for – so much to die for.
“Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to about. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to about and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:11-13)
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2Corinthians 4:16-18)
Our diligence in searching for that which is lost is usually determined by its worth, either to ourselves or to others. The reason God shows us our worth is so that we can help Him diligently seek and save that which is priceless to Him, the soul. Knowing the value of the soul not only affects how we care for our own soul, it also motivates us to care for the souls of others. A failure to realize the worth of every soul to God not only causes us to sell our souls at a bargain, but it blinds us to the mystery behind loving our enemies.
“If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 15:24-26)
One main theme in the book of James is that knowing and doing are two separate acts. It’s important to know the right thing to do, but if you never do it you “miss the mark” (James 4:17). That’s what sin is – missing the intended target of righteous living. Simply put, knowledge of the right thing to do without doing it is worthless, vain, and empty. As Jesus said to the lawyer who answered His question rightly, “Go and do” (Luke 10:37). To never “do” is to prove that you never believed the truth enough to actually do it.
“For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.” (James 2:26)
A while back, a student shared his frustrations with me about wanting to teach and preach to those he cared about the most, but the problem was that he simply lacked the ability to communicate effectively, no matter how hard he tried. On top of that, he lacked biblical knowledge considering he was new to being a Christian and was still learning himself about God’s Word. So he didn’t have much confidence in himself to be able to teach others, but he definitely wanted to teach. After I encouraged him to be patient with himself, I shared with him the greatest teaching tool that I have ever received: The greatest sermon that we can ever give is the lesson of our lives. In other words, be before people what you want them to become.
“Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.” (1Timothy 4:12)
The worth of a commodity is usually determined by what we would be willing to give in order to obtain it. Let’s be honest with ourselves, what would a relationship with God be worth if it were so easy that it cost us nothing?
“If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.” (Luke 9:23-24)