James, in his epistle, tells us that if we fail to love our neighbor, that’s on the same level as committing murder or adultery. If I size someone up as not being my neighbor because of the color of their skin, or where they are socially or economically, I have blown it. I’ve missed the point.
No matter what you’re like, no matter where you’re from, no matter how much money you have or how little you have, no matter the shade or tone of your skin, no matter your background, history, heritage, or culture… no matter what, you are infinitely valuable.
It’s because of my relationship with Jesus Christ that I can look at any person in the world – black, white, brown, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, gay, straight, left, right, conservative, liberal – and see in them the very imprint of the image of God himself, their Creator.
If your religion serves you, then it’s probably empty. But if your religion serves God by serving the people God loves, then it’s a means of demonstrating the overflow of your relationship with Christ.
Religion works when we allow faith and grace to have their proper fruit in the transformation of our lives. Have you been transformed? Perhaps the easiest way to tell is, what kind of grip do you have on your own tongue?
Join me in being quick to listen to those who have experienced racism first-hand, slow to speak rebuttals, and slow to get defensive or angry. In our culture, we’re experiencing the slow death of empathy. Let’s reverse that trend. Listen and love and lay down your defensive arguments.
The Bible is somewhat like a mirror. It shows us a picture of ourselves with the promise that someday, we will miraculously achieve flawless perfection in our character. We will look like Jesus. But right now, the Bible also helps us to see the flaws that need to be removed before we get to the point of perfection for eternity.
The very best thing you can do with any and all of your angry feelings is to slow down, take a breath, and express them to God. He can handle it. And he can help you. He already knows about your anger and he’s already provided the emotional resources you need to work through it in a holy and healthy way.
Ultimately, what James is challenging us to do is to handle our emotions in a holy, healthy way. You don’t always control your emotions, but you always have a choice in how to respond to your emotions and what actions you choose to take based on your feelings.
God didn’t promise you that you’d always be strong enough, on your own, to handle temptation. But he did promise that there would always be an escape lever, and there always, always is one.