Recently, my Sunday School class started a study of the Book of James in the New Testament. This study brought a lot of lively discussions. Some of those discussions continued for my husband and I as we drove home. The nagging thoughts from the class that stuck in my head can be summed up in the question, “Where is our trust?”
Psalm 20:7 “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.”
To begin with, let me provide a summary of the Book of James. Experts believe Jesus’ brother James wrote this book. Initially, James did not follow Jesus but became a disciple after the resurrection. The central message can be summed up in the following words from Chuck Swindoll “faith endures in the midst of trials, calls on God for wisdom, bridles the tongue, sets aside wickedness, visits orphans and widows, and does not play favorites. He stressed that the life of faith is comprehensive, impacting every area of our lives and driving us to truly engage in the lives of other people in the world.” To me, James paints a picture of the way the church should look and act. Since we are the church, we are called to reach out to those in need as a way of life.
Matthew 6:19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.”
As our class dug into the study on one Sunday, we looked at our money through the eyes of James. Do our finances affect how much we rely on God? Does income levels drive us towards or away from God? The questions caused me to do some reflections. On some of my mission trips, it appeared to me that those with less money, in other countries, seem to rely on God more than I do. If I am hungry, I go out and buy food. If they feel hunger, they turn to God and pray for Him to provide. Did I trust in my money to satisfy my need instead of God? But, didn’t Christ give me the means to buy food? I felt uncertain about how to answer.
Matthew 6:21 “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
I began to dig into the subject. We see church attendance declining across the USA and most European countries. These same countries offer strong governments with good social programs to help the poor within their borders. In contrast, the church continues to grow in underdeveloped countries that do not assist their people in need. In developed countries, has the church surrendered its responsibility for caring for those in need to the government? The poor in America usually have resources available to them like food stamps, even if they are not ideal solutions. So, do I rationalize not helping others because I donate through my taxes already? Is the affluence of the west driving people away from churches because they don’t need God?
Money becomes a problem when we place our trust in it more than we put our faith in God. Click To Tweet
Matthew 6:21 warns us “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Money, in and of itself, is not wrong or bad. Money becomes a problem when we place our trust in it instead of putting our faith in God. Jesus expounds on this idea in Luke 18:24-25 “24 Seeing the man’s sorrow, Jesus said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God. 25 Indeed, it is easier for a camel to pass through an eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” Riches can be a stumbling block to our faith. But, there is good news for us. Jesus goes on in verse 27 to say “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”
Matthew 25: “35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”
So, what does it look like for us to put our trust in God and not in our resources? “James stressed that the life of faith is comprehensive, impacting every area of our lives and driving us to truly engage in the lives of other people in the world.” We, the church, must learn to be the very hands and feet of Christ to everyone around us. Matthew 25:35-36 gives us a glimpse of what the people of God should be doing to help others. “35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”
Churches must go beyond their walls to reach the needy. Click To Tweet
These verses in Matthew are God’s calling to His people, not to the governments of the world. We should be:
- Nourishing the hungry and thirsty
- Welcoming the strangers
- Clothing the poor
- Caring for the sick
- Visiting those in prison
Maybe, if today’s church in the west, spent more time reaching beyond its walls, and starting programs to help those in need, instead of relying on the government, maybe they could become more relevant to the next generation. A church following James’ call to action will attract others to follow Christ while growing the Kingdom of God. Can we do it?
Does the wealth of our country replace our need for God? Click To Tweet
Yvonne, Blogger, speaker, and author
Matthew 28:19 “Therefore, GO and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.”
37 thoughts on “Where is our Trust?”
What a strong call to action! Compelling. I pray God would help me be faithful to His clear instruction. May we trust Him enough to be obedient.
Thank you Peggy. I struggled with writing this one but really felt called to it. I appreciate your comments. God bless
I certainly rationalize-away serving others at times, sadly. This was a convicting reminder that no matter how many resources we have in this country, we can always help others and show the love of Jesus.
Very true Emily. I think each of us can do more for others. God bless
Yvonne, your post gets at a truth we don’t like to admit. Because the Lord has blessed us to live in a country where we can work hard to meet our needs, we feel like we don’t need God. And, we don’t like to share what we have earned because we believe it has come from us. Instead, we must remember everything we have comes from God. Thank you for your true heart!
Thanks Melissa. I really had to look hard at myself as I wrote this one. It is a truth I try to ignore but God keeps convicting me. God bless
Powerful message that really gets me thinking. We are called to serve God in each moment. We can serve Him by sharing His love with others. Worshipping Him can come in many forms. I pray that I don’t overlook any opportunities to serve Him and show His love. 🙂
Me too Melissa. I let so many moments slip by when it comes to serving God. Thanks for visiting. God bless
Too many leave their Christian duties at the church door. Perhaps we do leave the care of others to the government. I am no longer able to be physically active, but my prayer ability still works.
So very true, Vivian. But, prayer is so vital to the work of the Lord. God bless
James is one of my favorite books. It is SO challenging. I love your thoughts here, Yvonne and how you are working through the questions James’ inevitably raises. You’re so right. How often do we REALLY rely on God. Challenging.
Thanks Stephanie. It is very challenging to rely on God for everything instead of trying to take care of things on our own. I pray for God to teach us His ways. God bless
How easy for us to leave our churches every Sunday, feeling content that we have worshiped and attended church. But we as the church and body of Christ are called to be active, with each part of the body taking responsibility to use our gifts in whatever way God has called us to make a positive difference in the life of others and to expand God’s kingdom. We are called to love all others and particularly care for the vulnerable, weak, outcast, marginalized, widowed and orphaned. And while governments can and should assist with this, because the world has so many diverse and significant humanitarian challenges and issues, we are all called to do our part and serve others wherever we can. Thanks for the post.
Thanks Anne. I really appreciate you adding your thoughts on the subject. It is so easy to think our responsibility ends at the church doors. God bless
The book fo James is one of my favorites, and you are so right—we have an obligation to step up and do something for others in the name of our Lord and savior!
Thanks Jessica and amen. God bless
Challenging message. I. too, fear that we (the Church) have stepped back and allowed the government to do what God has called us to do. Thanks for putting this in front of me. Faith without works is dead, right?
Thanks Beth. I agree that faith without works is dead. Faith is so much than going to church each week. God bless
Thank you for your call to action! We aren’t just Christians on Sundays at church, but are supposed to be living out our faith every day! We aren’t to conform to the “me-centered” culture but really look for ways to serve others!
I agree Julie but it is against our culture so we really need to make it a priority in our lives daily. Thanks and God bless
Wonderful post! I read a book by Brother Yun called “The Heavenly Man” and in it he says that Americans don’t need God they have insurance. Thank you for this reminder that our trust should be in God, not governments, insurance companies and the dollar.
Thank you Michelle. I need to research about that book. It is difficult for us in America to understand how much we really trust our things rather than God. Blesst
“Maybe, if today’s church in the west, spent more time reaching beyond its walls, and starting programs to help those in need, instead of relying on the government, maybe they could become more relevant to the next generation.”
Maybe if we started to BE the Church in the world, we could change the world for the next generation.
We ought to give that a good try.
Thanks, Yvonne. God bless!
I agree Nancy, we need to learn to be the church and reach out to a hurting world. They desperately need Jesus. Thanks
“These verses in Matthew are God’s calling to His people, not to the governments of the world.” YES! It is sad that believers have relegated this duty to the government. We absolutely need to be more active in serving and caring for others in the name of Jesus. Feeding the hungry is nice, but leaves them eternally empty. Preaching the gospel is essential, but how unloving to do so without a concern for real needs.
Amen Susan. We need more Christians to serve the needs of those around us. God bless
A powerful post, Yvonne! All of the questions you raised from your study of James are the questions I often ask myself. In our comfortable western world, it’s often difficult to sort out the gray areas into black and white. Your call to action is the same one that Jesus gave as he neared the end of his life, saying that feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, inviting in the stranger, clothing the naked, and visiting the prisoner were the indicator of whether or not we are truly Christians. That’s a sobering thought. Later in the passage he says to those who do NOT do these things, “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.” (Matthew 25:41-43). These questions you pose are life and death questions, the indicators of whether our faith is true or not. Are we doing these things?
These are the questions I struggle with and wonder if I am doing enough. I pray for God to show us the way forward especially in the Western world. God bless
I appreciate your questions here and how you’ve taken time to digest God’s Word and see how it applies to you. I agree, trusting in our resources and money is a big problem in our culture, and I see it in my own life as well. And if not money, we rely on our witt, intelligence, connections, or even our looks to get what we need. When in reality, our first place to seek provision is from God, who has provided each of these things we rely on. I’m going to need to think more on this, and appreciate you getting me started today. Thank you.
Thanks Elaine. It is a lot to digest and I don’t know the answers. But, we need to figure out what this means for each of us. Our calling is clear; share the gospel and help those in need. God bless
These are great words, Yvonne! It’s easy for those of us in first world countries to rely on ourselves or/and our money first. And then seek out God when things don’t go the way we expected. We had a pastor who shared about how the people in India learned to rely on God for their next meal, for medical care because He was their only option. I need to remember this and to be more intentional about relying on God first and foremost.
Thanks Jeanne. We could learn something from pastor like the one you u mentioned. God bless
I agree that the American Church seems to have allowed the government to take over a lot of what it used to provide people. It’s challenging in a pluralistic culture, where some would not want to go inside a church to receive any help because they don’t believe. So, I think some of this has occurred for that reason. But local churches still do things for communities that others don’t do. For example, recently in the Midwest we had this terrible Polar Vortex where wind chills dropped to -50 below zero. This can kill people if left outside too long (matter of fact, I read about 11 people died). But there was a local church here that opened its door to the homeless and gave them a place to sleep and stay during the two terribly cold days. So, the church does still step up to the plate once in a while and knocks it outta ‘da park!
Wonderful to hear what the church did in the cold. We all need our churches to do such activities. God bless
Great Post and reminders for sure! God Bless
Thanks for your post, for me it hit close to home because I have been running a Food Pantry Ministry for 12 years and our verse is Matthew 25:35. We must take care of the widows and orphans and those in between. God Bless!!!
Amen. Thank you. So many more churches need to be involved in such ministries. God bless