In Frank Herbert’s DUNE, he wrote of a civilization that trained the ultimate warriors. In this classic science-fiction book, the civilization trained these men by placing them on a planet that was so harsh and deadly only a very small percentage of the people survived. The most lethal and ruthless lived and were trained as warriors. The environment brought out the expected results.
If I can be so bland as to suggest a comparison, life is a lot like that idea found in Dune. Except God is not creating the “ultimate warriors”.
“Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first-fruits of His creatures” (James 1:18).
It’s a fascinating word: first-fruits.
It brings us back to the Jewish feast days in the Old Testament. They brought the first-fruits of their land to God as a sacrifice. It’s an interesting word because Christians are a kind of first-fruit. Paul said we are “living sacrifices”. That is the goal God has for our lives. It’s what our life is all about–or should be.
“Should” is not strong enough.
All of life, its circumstances, its processes, everything about it–they all work together with the hope of bringing forth what God intended from the beginning. They work together to bring forth faithful Christians who love God with all the heart, soul, mind, and strength.
This earth and its processes are perfectly suited for developing Christians. We live in the perfect environment for creating the decisions that lead to people being fully devoted to God. It’s really an amazing idea, and if you want to learn more about it, I would encourage you to read Thomas Warren’s classic book on the subject: “Have Atheist Proved There Is No God?” It’s not an easy read. Warren is brilliant.
This section in James is all about the decisions we make.
God is not at fault when we sin. He is not the one who tempts us, even though He placed us in this environment that so easily ensnares us in sin. His intention is that we choose not to sin.
We are at fault when we sin. We are the ones who take God’s good gifts and abuse them. Because of our desires, even the good ones, we sometimes are lured into shortcuts that are sinful. We sometimes do not see any other way out. We are taught by others how to find the things we need, or think we need, and they sometimes teach us the wrong ways.
But if we change the information, we change the results. If we have a desire and we choose to pursue that desire in a godly, wholesome fashion, we will find that those desires are richly fulfilled.
Take, for example, the need for acceptance. It can cause us to act out in so many different ways that lead to sin. It might be that we notice we feel acceptance when we have a lot of money. And so, we do whatever we can for that money. From that we are led into sinful practices (perhaps) so that we can have the money, so that we can feel accepted.
Change the information and you change the process.
What if we saw that being a faithful Christian made people feel accepted? Now we have a process that is wholesome and godly.
This over-simplification illustrates that we need better information if we want to avoid the pitfalls of life. That’s where the Bible fits. “Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth…” The Bible, God’s word, is able to give us the information. It is able to supply us with the right decisions to bring about what God originally intended for us. And it is magnificently designed to do it!
The choice then lies with us. We can choose the pathway to godliness. It’s not the easy path, but it is the only one worth choosing.
See you tomorrow!