Fighting Hard

"Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein of their tongues deceive themselves, 
and their religion is worthless.  Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: 
to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."
James 1:26, 27

I've found this passage speaking to me quite strongly over the past  few days mostly because I've found myself failing miserably in the execution of the verse.  Normally, I would not call myself a judgmental person.  I'm opinionated, for sure, but judgmental..usually not so much.

I've tried to pinpoint the source of my
aggravation   I feel that if I could just discern what's leading me to these terrible thoughts about people I could change them.  But instead, I'm finding myself become more and more judgmental, bitter, and hateful.

I realize this is not God's way for me.

God wishes for me to love justice, act mercifully, and to love relentlessly.  God wishes for me to be humble before Him and for His love to flow out of that humility.  God desires for me to set aside every pollutant in my life and to seek Him wholeheartedly.  But I, unfortunately, I seem to chose to remain bitter, cold, hateful.

How do I change this?  How can I change my opinions--my judgments--when I'm so certain that I am correct?

At some point or time you have had similar feelings.  Perhaps today you are feeling this same way--stuck in the rut of disappointment, pride, and bitterness all of which lead to a judgmental attitude.  The good news is there's a way out and God wants to help you find the way out of this dark place and into His light.

1.  Ask for prayer for other believers.

James writes, "Is anyone among you in trouble?  Let them pray.  Is anyone happy?  Let them sing songs of praise.  Is anyone among you sick?  Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord...Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.  The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective." (James 5:13-16).

I'm sure you know the saying, "Confession is good for the soul."  Somehow that's true.  There is something about confessing our shortcomings that helps us.  Maybe it's that we know other people will be watching us or maybe it's just that the shortcoming is no longer a secret but confession changes our hearts. 

2.  Submit yourself to God and the authority of His Word.  In other words, live for Him.

In James 4 he writes, "...Don't you know that friendship with the world means enmity agains God?...Submit yourselves, then, to God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  Come near to God and He will come near to you...Humble yourself before the Lord, and He will lift you up."

It's only by submitting (obeying) the Word of God that the enemy flees from us.  We must learn to sacrifice our own desires and line ourselves up with His Word.  He says forgive.  We must forgive.  He says love.  We must love.  He says turn off the television and spend time with Me.  Then that's what we do.  

It's that simple.  And it's that difficult.  Every time we sacrifice our own desires for God's we are killing our sinful nature again and allowing the Holy Spirit to have control of our life.

3.  Walk the walk even when you are forcing yourself to do that.

I know what you're thinking.  That's legalism.  I must have faith.

Well, yes, you must have faith, but James wrote, "Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead." (James 2:14-26).

It's mind over matter friends.  No, it doesn't always feel good, but it's the right action and God will honor that action.  It's kinda amazing how are actions start to change our feelings.

If you show love enough to a person you don't like eventually you'll start loving them.  If you show mercy to someone who doesn't deserve it enough eventually you'll become a person of mercy.  

Mind over matter.

I'm doing my best right now to change my mindset.  Is it easy.  Absolutely not, but I want my life to be pleasing before God and I want my life to be to be an example of true religion that God honors.

The great thing is God's hand of mercy and grace and love is always extended for us and He's never going to pull away.  When we follow our failures up with repentance  Christ forgives the utmost.  He never remembers our shortcomings again.  

May we ever point people to His love by the love with have for one another.

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