by Andy Smith

So often, I read Scripture, or listen to a sermon, and walk away with the thought: “OK, so here’s how I’m supposed to be, how I should serve, how I ought to pray, how I ought to love my fellow man, how I ought to give of my time and money, and how I should help the poor. I’m going to make a serious effort to do those things this week!”

I’ve already failed.

Why? Because I made myself into the hero of my own faith story.

It’s not about what I do. It’s about what Jesus has done, is doing, and will do.

As Pastor Matt Hein accurately analyzes the New Testament letter written by James, this text closes with admonitions to patience, to prayer, and to restoration.

James describes a farmer who, having planted a seed, must and can only wait and watch for it to sprout. Impatience is our desire to control events. Patience is the realization that God controls not only what will happen, but when it will happen.

James exhorts us to prayer, which, in the midst of that patience, is the turning of our minds toward God, thanking Him for the many gifts which our impatience tends to overlook, praising Him for His excellent creation on which our impatience doesn’t bother to meditate, and confessing to Him the sins which our impatience would rather not acknowledge.

Finally, James points us toward the ministry of restoration. A ruptured relationship, whether between one human and another, or between God and a human, heals organically–not in an instant.

Yet I can still learn the wrong lesson: I can think to myself, “OK, we’ve read the Epistle of James, and now I’ll go and work on being patient, on praying more, and on reconciling.”

Once again, I’ve missed the point: It’s not about what I do. It’s about what Jesus is doing.

Once again, I’ve missed the point: It’s not about what I do. It’s about what Jesus is doing.

Pastor Hein points us toward the cross. The text from James isn’t meant to feel like a burdening “to do” list. It isn’t meant to make us feel guilty or stressed. Rather, it’s to show us that God’s Word will shape how we live.

Jesus will work these things.

My task is to watch Jesus. He’s going to make things happen.

He already has. He busted into my life, into my heart, quite uninvited. He planted His Holy Spirit in me. It started to grow and make things happen in my life–things like patience, prayer, and restoration.

Like a soft, gentle rain, God’s Word causes growth in my life. Sometimes, I’m not even aware of it, until I think about how I was a few years ago.

I’m getting interested, curious, even a bit excited. I want to see what Jesus will do with me next. I know that I can’t do much. He’ll shape me, redesign me, improve, and mature me. I’m going to watch for it.