Thursday, January 5, 2023

Faith in Practice (James 2)

"Faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead" (James 2:17).

The great end of Proverbs is to bring the doctrines of the faith into practice. To those who may smirk at practical instruction, Bridges writes, “Unpalatable as it may be to the mere professor of godliness, the true man of God will honour practical inculcation in its place, no less than doctrinal statement. ‘The truth’ as it is in Jesus—that which flows from Him, leads to Him, and centres in Him—that in which ‘we are to be learned, and to be taught by Him’—is practical truth.

“We look into this Book, and, as by the aid of the microscope, we see the minuteness of our Christian obligations; that there is not a temper, a look, a word, a movement, the most important action of the day, the smallest relative duty, in which we do not either deface or adorn the image of our Lord, and the profession of His name. Surely if the book conduced to no other end, it tends to humble even the most consistent servant of God, in the consciousness of countless failures … the whole Book is a mirror for us all.

“Nor is it only a mirror to show our defects. It is also a guide-book directory for godly conduct. The details of the external life, in all the diversified spheres, are given or implied with perfect accuracy, and with a profound knowledge of the workings of the human heart.… The rich are warned of their besetting temptations. The poor are cheered in their worldly humiliation. Wise rules are given for self-government. It bridles the injurious tongue, corrects the wanton eye, and ties the unjust hand in chains. It prevents sloth, chastises all absurd desires; teaches prudence; raises man’s courage; and represents temperance and chastity after such a fashion, that we cannot but have them in veneration.… The blessing or curse of the marriage ordinance is vividly portrayed. Sound principles of family order and discipline are inculcated. Domestic economy is displayed in its adorning consistency—even the minute courtesies of daily life are regulated. Self-denying consideration of others, and liberal distribution are enforced. All this diversified instruction is based upon the principles of true godliness.” What Christian can live without such instruction? Prepare your heart, then, to bring your life into focus through the lens of the book of Proverbs.

Skim through the book of Proverbs today. Notice the various themes and subjects the book contains. Throughout the day think of areas in your life that need particular guidance in wisdom, i.e. your marriage, work, money, self-control. Pray that God will use your study of Proverbs to make these areas more godly.