Advice From an Early Church Leader

The following advice comes from a man who was a half-brother to Jesus Christ, so he knew Jesus as his older brother and saw Him both as man and God. This man also became the leader of the main Christian church, in Jerusalem, after Jesus’ death and resurrection. He was godly and exemplary in his life.

His name is James and he wrote a short letter to Christians which has become part of the New Testament. Here is the first chapter of that letter, updated into language that is easier for you to comprehend.

Now, pay attention to this advice from an early church leader.

James Chapter One

The various tests of who and what you are should be something to be glad about.

Know this, that those frustrations bring about patience in your life.

If you allow the process to be complete you will become a fully complete Christian.

One of the problems for you will be lack of wisdom. (You may misinterpret the situation and fail to respond properly). So ask for wisdom and your generous God will give it to you.

But remember that the basis of your whole life is faith. So be convinced in your heart.

If you are unsure you will get tossed around like a wave in a troubled sea.

If you don’t have a settled faith as your starting point you won’t receive from God.

Doubt means you are trying to hold two different ideas at the same time and that will make you unstable in everything you do.

Now to some other practicalities which are a part of your journey into completeness.

Recognise that socio-economic factors have been dissolved by Christ. The lower class have been exalted and the rich has been brought down, knowing that his wealth is transient. All should rejoice in the transformation Christ brings to their estate.

There is blessing to the one who survives testing. He shall receive a crown which Christ promised to those who love Him.

Now realise this, God does not create those horrible testing experiences you go through, so don’t blame Him.

God does not trade in evil, is not put under pressure by it and doesn’t awaken evil in anyone to put them under pressure.

Everyone is tested by the process of their own lust trying to lead them off in the wrong direction.

Lust tries to lead you off. Once you have yielded to your lusts, entertained those lustful thoughts instead of resisting them, you become pregnant with sin. You will carry that sin around inside you and without fail you will commit an act of sin in due time. And, of course, your sin produces death.

That is why it is imperative that you do not swerve off course in any way.

Remember that every precious thing comes from God, who is holy, he does not get drawn the slightest degree off course.

It was His will to cause us to be born again by His word, so we would be a special creature among all He made.

So, in order to keep on the right track, every one should be a keen listener but very slow to speak, and certainly slow to be angry.

Man’s emotional responses do not achieve God’s righteousness. So don’t act out of passion of any kind.

Put aside all impurity and the abundance of ill-will man feels toward other men and in a spirit of humility allow God’s Word to be grafted into your life, so your soul will be saved.

Christianity is not a theoretical experience, but one that involves you acting on what God’s Word says. If you hear but do not translate that into action you are deceiving yourself.

Hearers forget what they have heard.

Only when you put something into practice does it become part of your life. This is when you get blessed.

A clear test of a man’s religion is his tongue. People who have a loose tongue have a deceived heart and all their good deeds are worthless.

Pure religion in God’s sight is to care for those God has special care for, the orphans and widows in their difficulties, and to keep clean from the world’s moral pollution.

The Economic Man

A man recently told me how he struggles to take the lead in his home because his wife out-earns him. His situation brought to focus the cherished idea that men have authority only because they are the bread-winner. This is a false notion and needs to be dealt with in order to find blessing in the home.

The problem we have in our society is that there are two prevailing mindsets we can draw from. Well, actually there is only one made accessible to most people, and that’s the wrong one. However, for Bible believing Christians there are certainly two mindsets which pull at our consciousness.

One mindset is the prevailing naturalistic view of the world. People who deny God’s place in the universe see everything as a product of naturalistic processes. They believe the world evolved by natural processes. They believe that societies evolved and that marriage is a product of people’s attempts to survive their circumstances.

From a naturalistic point of view it could be suggested that male leadership in the home evolved due to man’s greater capacity to guarantee the safety of the family, through brute strength and his greater capacity to bring provision to the home. That idea has been sown around western society to the point that many people simply assume it is gospel truth.

The other mindset is given to us in the Bible. It is a mindset based on God as our creator and the architect of our whole life experience.

Naturalistic thinking is mono-dimensional. It can only understand things from the human perspective. It is also without moral protection. Since we live in a moral universe influenced by godly and ungodly forces, those who choose not to seek godly influence will unwittingly come under ungodly influence. Ungodly forces are intent on deception and slavery for mankind, keeping people away from truth that sets them free. The Apostle James identified the way these two forces impact the mind of man when he discussed ‘wisdom’.

“This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual and devilish.” James 3:15

James exposes here that what stacks up as pretty good human, materialistic wisdom will actually have an ungodly source. It will be a limited perspective, from man’s point of view, but with a barb in the tail.

The naturalistic point of view lacks the profound depth and breadth available to us as we listen to what God is saying. The godly, Biblical mindset is rich with grace and positive potential.

Now, back to the Economic Man. The naturalistic, ungodly perspective suggests that a man’s only real value in a home is his economic contribution. His right to lead the home and his value to the other family members is directly linked to his economic worth.

If the wife and children out-earn him, and out-perform him in many ways, then this naturalistic man has to accept his loss of worth. He is demeaned by their success and relegated to some lesser place, unless he can stand tall in their presence and command respect because of his performance.

True manhood has nothing to do with economic contribution. It has nothing to do with physical strength, force of will, ability to protect and defend, or any other masculine quality. True manhood is simply being the man that God created the bloke to be. And the authority which a true man holds comes from God, not from the man himself.

The man is the head of the home, not because of his economic power, but because that is God’s design. God chose the man to carry the responsibility. That is why the universal expression of marriage has the man carrying the responsibility. God created it so and made it natural and logical to be so. Men did not gain headship by a process of evolution, or by swinging a big club. They were given it by God.

A man could be quadriplegic, old, weak, bald, humourless, or any of a myriad un-masculine qualities, and still be the head of his home and the leader of his family.

When men walk away from God they end up reduced to the level of their economic performance. A form of economic rationalism is exerted over their existence. They must perform or be displaced.

When men walk with God they are elevated to the place of leadership and responsibility which God gives them. They don’t have to prove a thing. They can happily have their wife and children out-perform them. They can celebrate the success of their descendents. They can rejoice in their wife’s achievements. They are not threatened by those things nor displaced by them.

It is time to dispense with the economic man. That is an unworthy model of manhood. It is time to embrace true manhood, found in God’s calling, not in human definition.

If you would like to dig into the subject of manhood take a look at my book, Manhood Horizons. Go to: http://familyhorizons.net/html/manhood.html