What words do you live by? You, like me, probably have special sayings, verses, and phrases that give comfort and direction on your journey. Last week, I shared how reading the book of James, along with one of my students, refreshed my appetite for living per God’s instructions. James’ words were reminders to: listen and obey, love all people, have faith and do good works, control the things I say, seek true wisdom, give myself wholly to God, not judge people, be patient, be careful what I say, and pray. These are wise words - from the Father to His children (including you and me) - to live by.
The small print beneath JAMES in my 3:16 Bible reads, ‘How to Live as a Christian’. My NKJV Women of Destiny Bible, given to me by two good friends when my mother passed in 2001, shares the same message of ‘faith that works’ found in James, the book written by Jesus’ brother. Yet, the fine print prefacing this book alludes how it could have been written for women alone because of its significance to us! With emphasis on letting patience have its perfect work, being wise, and guarding what we say with our mouths, this book calls all believers, women and men, to a high standard of ethical living based on the gospel.
People are watching and listening wherever we go. Living perfectly is not possible. We will hurt people; we will get hurt. We will sin and should seek forgiveness. We believe and are examples for others to see Jesus shining in our lives. Therefore, we must talk the talk as we walk the walk, realizing that God sees and hears all that we do and say.
Being grounded in love and close to the Lord with His Word in our hearts is a wise way to live. The wisdom referred to in the book of James is Godly wisdom, not worldly. We must stay grounded in Godly wisdom, for worldly wisdom consumes and creates puffed up people who forget that God is in charge of His creation. When we neglect Him and His Word, we become endangered creatures with chaos and confusion in our lives.
Godly wisdom means you will not be bitter or boastful, selfish or spiteful, jealous or unforgiving. James 3 reminds us that Godly wisdom is pure, peace loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Maybe we are not nearly as wise as we profess to be, especially in family affairs.
My son, Clint, recently married his sweetheart, Jamie, in a beautiful ceremony that brought tears of joy to his mama’s eyes. While thanking God for a wonderful wedding week end, I praised Him for helping us survive tension that could have taken away the joy of this blessed occasion. Any parents reading this story surely understand the reality of tender moments as well as tense ones throughout a wedding season.
The week end before the wedding, our family and Jamie’s family shared a long week end together at Topsail. What I learned is how delightful and difficult it can be when we follow the wisdom taught in the book of James. Bringing two families together magnifies the little things that can irritate, even when one is unaware of such behavior. Spending this time together taught me to take a good look at myself, especially, when it’s easy to view others’ actions and attitudes, wondering why they don’t do as we do. Surely, these thoughts have penetrated your hearts too. James, my friend and fiancé, helped me understand things from a different perspective. He shared wedding memories as the father of two beautiful brides. When I felt left out, he explained the importance of mother – daughter times. His greatest words of wisdom reminded me we are all on different roads and that doesn’t mean our road (way) is the only right one. Ironically, the book of James was personally paraphrased with tender loving words by the man God sent to love and look after me…James.
Clint and I carved time from the busy week end for a mother-son walk on the beach. For two hours we walked and talked with a full moon hanging overhead. Our time together was a gift that will forever live in my heart. We unwrapped tension, replaced it with tenderness, and triumphed over the enemy who tries to steal family time and spoil parent-child relationships. I shared mother of the groom frustrations; he shared things sons deal with when mothers cling tightly and offend easily. Our walk ended with both of us in stitches, laughing and reminiscing good times past, enjoying our last moments before he would become a married man, and looking forward to making many more precious memories. I asked my son to forgive me when I expect a lot and talk too much. He asked me to forgive him for expecting too much and forgetting how much phone calls and visits home mean to his mama. We understood perfectly the importance of close connections and clear communication as the warm waters washed over our sandy feet.
Clint wrapped me in his arms and we talked to Jesus. Looking toward heaven, he sent a message to his Dad that we are all okay and will forever stay closely connected to the Lord and our loved ones. We stood in silence with the glow of moonlight and God’s love on our faces. I knew this magic moment was about to end but my willingness to forgive and not hold onto little grievances, to be more understanding that my sons and their families are busy with their lives and can’t always cater to Mom, to be humble - not hateful, and to daily live by the words in the book of James would help me be a better Mom, mother in law, Nana, friend, and most of all…Christian.
What words do you live by? How do family members and friends feel about you? Are you willing to look inward, admit you like having things your way, ask God for tenderness to saturate your heart, forgive and forget little things that can spoil the big blessings God has in store for you and your loved ones? I urge you to take a good look around and if you’re looking down, put a little love in your heart – and your world will be a better place, for you and me, just wait and see. Singing that little song reminds me of God’s greatest commandment to love one another. When we love from hearts filled with His sweet spirit, our world (life, family, job, etc.) will be a better place. And what our world needs now really is love, sweet love – that’s the only thing that there’s just too little of.
Sharing happy times together with family and friends, asking forgiveness when tenseness threatens your treasure, and living by God’s words of life and love: priceless!