I believe that you, like me, want to flourish—to prosper—in your Christian life. You want to run God’s race with the loud roar of a fierce lion.
The Apostle Paul spent considerable time praying for the believers. In fact, some of his prayers are recorded in Scripture. One thing is clear within the heart of this apostle: he did not want them to settle for a little when they could experience so much more.
How true this is!
Sometimes we want instant gratification – immediate results. But here’s the thing: nothing in Scripture indicates that power in Christ and fruitful living is without cost.
Recently, I read a gripping story of a young Muslim girl who was rescued from the dark world of Islam into the light of Christ’s love. I love what Samaa Habib said:
“When a Muslim becomes a Christian, he or she is radical in their faith. The cost to serve Jesus is high, but there is so much joy and freedom in choosing Him that even if it costs you your life, the reward far outweighs the sacrifice.” (from the book Face to Face with Jesus).
I agree with this young author, but we too must remember the sacrifice. Yes, the reward is splendid, but it takes enormous sacrifice to get there.
With that said, I would like to examine three ways we can gain a faith that thrives. These come from James 3.
To have a faith that thrives, one must learn to…
1. Control the tongue!
Listen to what James said: “The tongue is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness” (James 3:8-9).
The tongue can be like a forest fire—searing everything in its path and causing extensive damage.
Words not only hurt, but they can scar people for life, cause low self-esteem, tear open a heart, and unfortunately, lead people away from Christ. I know you don’t want to distract anyone from seeing Christ in you. I don’t either. That’s why we need to learn to control our tongues.
We may live in a country that affords freedom of speech, but we answer to God, not to man.
The moment we give up our “rights”—especially when we’ve been hurt—is the moment our faith begins to thrive. One of the fruits of the Spirit is self-control (Galatians 5:23). Imagine how pleased God is when we pray for someone instead of letting them have it with our words, or when we change the negative conversation about someone to the positive.
To have a faith that thrives, we must learn to:
2. Forsake earthly wisdom!
We read in James these words: “If you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil” (James 3:14-15).
Sometimes we think that Satan is our only spiritual enemy, but that’s just not true. He is usually the vessel causing us to stumble into temptation, but our sin can also sprout from the world and our flesh.
The world often contributes to the way we handle ourselves in different situations—we learn from experience and what we’ve seen. We emulate our parents, teachers, bosses, leaders, and friends.
And our own fleshly nature is definitely one huge culprit to our sin.
When I was in Bible College, I worked for a married couple from my church. They owned their own business. I remember dreading going to work most days because I didn’t know what kind of mood my boss would be in that day. One day she was sweet and loving, praising me for a job well done. The next day, she was yelling at me or cursing out a client. I arrived home in tears many days. I remember thinking that I didn’t want to work for Christians if this is what it was like.
Friends, this is common practice in the church. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the believer from the non-believer. And it shouldn’t be that way. Nothing good ever comes from this kind of behavior. This is why we need to recognize those tendencies waging war in our hearts and seek God’s deliverance. This is why we should forsake earthly wisdom.
To have a faith that thrives, we must learn to:
3. Seek heavenly wisdom!
James writes: “The wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness” (James 3:17-18).
There is no doubt that God still honors those who ask Him for wisdom, rather than letting the world dictate one’s behavior.
We are urged in Romans 12:9 to “hate what is evil; cling to what is good.” Therefore, we need to ask God how to conduct our lives: in our homes, our businesses, our churches, our relationships, and our communities. If God doesn’t condone it, then we need to distance ourselves from it. If Jesus wouldn’t give a “thumbs up,” then we shouldn’t do it.
People—even Christians—can lead us in the wrong direction. But God, through His Word, always leads us to what’s right. How pleased He is when we seek heavenly wisdom above all things.
If you would like to study more about your faith, consider working through our Fearless Faith Bible study. You will love it.