God changes and sanctifies us with the purpose of being used for his glory in the lives of others.
I believe that it is no mistake that the first chapter of James starts with encouragement to see joy in the way God tests our faith through hardships and then ends the chapter with a call to action. In fact, you will see as you continue to follow this series on James that he spends the rest of this book telling us not to just hear the words of God, but do what the words tell us to do!
James 1:2-4 says:
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
James chapter 1 ends like this -
“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”
Orphans and Widows in Affliction…
There are so many people in our world that are suffering. *
It is estimated that more than 140 million children worldwide, ranging from infants to teenagers, have lost one or both of their parents. Nearly 13 million orphans — who have lost both parents — are now living in orphanages or on the streets. These children lack the care and attention required for healthy development, resulting in a greater risk for disease, malnutrition, and even death.
According to the U.S. State Department, 600,000 to 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders every year, of which 80% are female and half are children. The average age a teen enters the sex trade in the U.S. is 12 to 14-year-old. Many victims are runaway girls who were sexually abused as children.
In the United States, the 2010 Census recorded the greatest number and proportion of people age 65 and older in all of decennial census history: 40.3 million, or 13% of the total population. The fastest growing segment of American’s population consists of those 85 and up. In 2010, there were 5.8 million people aged 85 or older. By 2050, it is projected that there will be 19 million people aged 85 or older.
Single motherhood has grown so common in America that demographers now believe half of all children will live with a single mom at some point before the age of 18.
Let’s Do Something…
We have already seen how God uses trials to change us. Trials test our faith and draw us to our knees and to his word for understanding. He causes us to know him more deeply as we see that he is the only one worth relying on in that hardship.
When we are lacking nothing because we understand the kind of deep love God has for us in Jesus, we should desire to do something to help others also know that love.
One of the greatest joys we have as Christians is the privilege of walking through trials with others. Because of the things Jesus has carried us through we can share that same hope with those that feel hopeless.
“To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
Is Christ (the hope of glory) in you?
Do you understand the grace that God has given you in Jesus?
Who can you share the hope of Christ with today?
Not sure where to start?
First, look with new eyes all around you. Has God placed in your life a single mom or an elderly neighbor? What are the ministry affiliates already within your church community? What organizations (both Christian and secular) are in your city that you can join, pray for and support?
Here are some ideas to get you started.
See You In The Round!