In chapter 4 of his book, James is pretty clear about what being a Christian looks like. He reminds us God resists the proud, and gives strength to the humble. Then he makes a life list:
- submit to God
- resist the devil
- draw near to God
- cleanse your hands
- purify your hearts
- weep, mourn
- humble yourselves
- don’t speak evil
- don’t assume you have tomorrow
- do good
(the last three are implied)
I believe a person who follows these will represent Jesus. And will do so intentionally.
It takes an act of will to submit to God, to die to self, and be honest enough to admit our helplessness before a Holy God. There is effort involved in drawing near to God through prayer and reading His Word every day. It takes discipline to turn away from sin and determine to use our abilities to further God’s kingdom, and to do it from a pure heart with no thought of anything other than honoring God.
It takes a purposeful look at our lives, our sin, our lostness, and when we do our response can only be complete devastation, sadness, mourning, over the fact that you and I sent Jesus to the cross. We’ll look at sin differently from that moment on.
And it takes a little courage to let go of “self”, like jumping out of an airplane without a parachute, and trusting God with the outcome, recognizing our hopelessness apart from Him.
The rest will come as a natural outpouring from God’s grace. We won’t speak evil, we won’t take today for granted, and we won’t tire of doing what needs to be done for the good of others and for the glory of God.
Because, as James so beautifully puts it, when we humble ourselves, when we give ourselves to God to break us down…
He will lift (us) up!