When my youngest daughter and I started working on our relationship I prayed, a lot. I prayed what to say the first summer she was home from college. I prayed each time I visited her. I asked God to put the right words in my mouth at the right time, with the right heart. I prayed to have my need to feel hurt and offended by her words be taken from me. I wanted God to change me so dramatically that my daughter could see that change. She needed to see that I was doing the work on my own issues. I had two God moments that have stuck with me during that time. The first was the summer after her freshmen year. I knew, from my older daughter, that life was going to change at our house. We would now have four adults living in our home – no children. And so, I prayed for the right words at the right time. James has taught us so well that when we rely on God in times of trial that wonderous solutions come to us that we might never have thought. I prayed that her newfound relationship with Jesus would also guide our conversations.
The last few words in the Book of James is really a summary. He tells us to take all of the wisdom and expectations of the five chapters and work together for the glory of God. To help those Christians who wander off God’s track and bring them back into his loving arms. To guide our children to a life of grace, wisdom and forgiveness.
Which brings me to the second of those God moments. My daughter and I were on the phone having yet another tense conversation while she was back at school. Full of misunderstandings and secret expectations (She has since told me she had long felt I had extremely high expectations of her and she didn’t want to fail me). I took a breath and prayed for God to speak through me. I stopped talking. I started listening. And finally, the right words came.
Me: “I have something to ask of you.”
Me: “I am working really hard on trusting God to handle a lot of stuff – including my fears and hopes and dreams for you.”
Her: “Uh uh.”
Me: “But I fail, a lot. I’m very impressed how you give a lot of grace and forgiveness to your friends, coaches, and teachers. What I’m asking for is that you give me some of that same grace and forgiveness for when I fail.”
Pin drop. God’s words not only diffused the situation but it called on her to look on her own faith. It asked her to treat me just like any other Christian to whom she shows love. It took me out of being “just her mom” to being a person. God was doing a mighty work in that moment.
As Christians we probably have Christian friends. We might have Christian children and spouses. We should have the expectation to which James exhorts us, which is to help keep our brothers and sisters on track. We might cringe at that thinking, again, we don’t want to be judgmental people. But by relying on our faith and reminding others of their faith helps us all to grow closer to Christ. It’s that Imperfect Progress my Bible study girls like to talk about.
What is more worthwhile than saving someone from death and covering a multitude of sin?Faith That Works
If we are in the mindset that our faith is ours and ours alone, we won’t reach out and bring others to Christ. We won’t help our brethren when they fall. I was in a Bible study group once where a woman stated she had never had a conversation about Christ with someone other than people at her church. She seemed ok with that. It made me sad. I know that God had put multiple people in her life along the way (she was in her 80s) to help do His work. I know that because that is God’s nature.
Every person you meet is providential, not accidental.Phil Hopper, Pastor, Abundant Life Church
So often we think about going out to foreign countries to share our faith when in our own homes and neighborhoods and schools and play groups and Bunco groups and dinner clubs there are people who need Christ. There are Christians who need our support. It’s one thing to gain wisdom from studying His Word and yet another to actually use that wisdom to glorify God.
May we be lumps of salt in the midst of society.Charles Spurgeon
I like that visual. To be placed around our neighborhoods and cities for the people to gain something good. We aren’t to be stockpiling our salt for our own personal use. We should be anticipating those moments God says, “Here, help my beloved.”
In other words, if we look at our salvation as a gift from God, we must also share that gift. We must also share the love and teachings of Jesus. By using Jesus’ ways as our touchstone, we can guide others along the way.
My daughter now will give me biblically based advice when I am struggling. She reminds me to lean into and on God. She gently pushes me closer to Jesus. I had a older friend, who at the beginning of the Covid19 crisis, I checked in on. I considered him a leader in our church, a man of strong faith. He was distraught and depressed. He said to me, “I just can’t see God in any of this to be honest.” And me, a person who struggles with memorizing any scripture spoke these words back to him: “You must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a boat on the waves of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.” (James 1:6) This man of great faith was silent. And then he said, “Thank you.”
As a Christian, I need my Christian friends and family to remind me of the promises God has made. I need nudges back toward His light. I may even need a whack over the head once in a while. If we choose not to help each other, think of all the opportunities we have missed to glorify Him and the people we will not have helped save from death. And as for my older daughter, I pray every day of my role in bringing her to Christ. More importantly, I pray that a Christian friend of hers will tell her their testimony and invite her on The Way.`