Last week, I told you to Abandon Your Calling. We often think of calling as a set of skills or a defined direction our life is supposed to take. Ironic though that in pursuit of the “calling” we often forget to listen to the One who is calling…
James is the just the guy to pick an argument. He’s the New Testament author who seems to take issue with our free grace. He’s the one that seems to poke the smoldering flames of lingering guilt over failures, expectations and performance.
From the very first chapter of the book by his name, he tells us that without works, faith is dead. So we better get busy proving our faith. Right? But, the second half of James chapter one has always stumped me. What does any of this have to do with a guy looking in the mirror?
Check out verses 23-25:
“Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.”
I took a few minutes to look up the words in the original Greek. Let me share my personal paraphrase:
For is anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, is like a man who is attentive to his course of life and knows his circumstances and understands his inward thoughts and feelings. Then, he follows after his “calling” oblivious to the quality or purpose of his life.
Let’s give James a break, not worry for a minute that he’s calling us back to works, and find out what is this course of life, this calling, that we are in danger of discarding to oblivion.
Isaiah 43:7 says, “‘Bring all who claim me as their God, for I have made them for my glory. It was I who created them.’”
We were created for God’s glory. We are in danger of living oblivious to this, the ultimate course of our lives.
Second Peter 1:3 says, “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.”
We are in danger of living oblivious to the calling of His glory and goodness.
Bear with me.
What if we are not made for specific careers, individual ministries or one unique calling? What if we are wasting our time praying, “Oh God, what do you want me to do with my life?”
The work we are called to is obedience to God’s commands. Jesus couldn’t have made these commands more clear in John 13:34, “A new command I give you, love one another as I have loved you,”.
Obedience is not performance. If we look hard into the Word of God and truly know who we are and what we are to do—to love others as Christ loved us—but turn around and merely perform, our grace is worthless, our knowledge vain.
In Matthew 7, Jesus said that the man who hears and does not do the Word of God is like one who built his house on sand. Though he might work hard and build the finest house, worthy of admiration, when the storms of life come all of his work will collapse—useless.
Our work is the obedience of love. This comes out of our very nature which matures in Christ when we look intently into His word. This word informs not performance but our personhood, not good work but the obedience of love. It doesn’t inform our own special calling, but informs the world of the God who saves us.