“What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. James 2:14-18”
As Christmas day is fast approaching I cannot help but observe how the whirlwind of gift-giving advertisements, marketing blitzes, holiday parties and activities galore that begins right after Halloween, building up to Thanksgiving, and continues gaining momentum through the end of the year. While this season is meant to bring feelings of love and cheer, celebrate the birth of Christ, and find the down time from work and school; it’s also the harbinger of holiday stress for many. In fact, according to a poll conducted on this site, more than 80% of us find the holiday season to be ‘somewhat’ or ‘very’ stressful — that ranks navigating the holiday’s right up there with asking for a raise.
Foremost, for Americans the thought that we are a blessed nation has become a way of life. Some Americans don’t know or even care to think that there is a life outside their city, town or state. Most young Americans don’t know the name of the country to the north of the US border, let alone any other nation in the world. Likewise, fast food has infiltrated every nook and cranny of American society. We as a nation now spend more money on fast food than on higher education, personal computers, computer software, or new cars. With this mentality during Christmas season most can now buy gifts for their families and loved ones through Amazon, eBay, Revzilla, as well as online shopping through most mainstream stores.
Furthermore, majority of churches started to preach how God has blessed this nation, how He wants us to be rich, how He has poured out Grace on us, etc., etc., failing to state the reason for this grace and outpouring of financial blessing. We have become the about me nation and with the fast food mentality we usually throw money at something and forget about the problem. Self-justifying our actions without having the heart in it. We do not anguish over others, do not cry with others, and do not rejoice with others. Overall, the reason for this season is mostly forgotten.
Albeit, God wants us to love him with all of our heart, with all of our understanding and with all our strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices. He delights in loyalty rather than sacrifice, And in the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings. (Our burnt offerings are random thighs and donations). The knowledge of God is experimental and practical, not merely theoretical (Ho 6:3; Jer 22:16; 1 Jo 2:3, 4). “Mercy” refers to the second table of the law, our duty to our fellow man; “the knowledge of God” to the first table, our duty to God, including inward spiritual worship. The second table is put first, not as superior in dignity, for it is secondary, but in the order of our understanding.
Moreover, God provided the ultimate (1 Jn. 2:2), one time only (Heb. 10:10), all encompassing (Heb. 9:26), eternal (Heb. 10:14) Sacrifice for sins in His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ at Calvary. This Sacrifice cannot be duplicated (Heb. 10:12), and no other sacrifice will atone for sin, and in fact never could! Thus, if we are to sacrifice, we are to give our whole life to God. We are to tear away from us the last in order to give to those who have none. We are not to indulge in our fortunate lives, but to give more and more to others.
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us. Albeit, The love for God is to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love. The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless. Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world. Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow. We are a nation of rulers, leaders and managers. But in Isaiah 1:23 God says “Your rulers are rebels, partners with thieves; they all love bribes and chase after gifts. They do not defend the cause of the fatherless; the widow’s case does not come before them.” For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. Our scripture teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.
So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the LORD. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Be righteous before God and walk in His commandments.
Remember, Jesus foretold us in Matthew 25:37-40 with a parable– Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’