Whenever you buy a new appliance or a new car, it comes with a manual or instruction booklet of some kind. There is usually a list of warnings at the front of the guide so the new owner will take certain precautions and will be warned in advance about things they should not do or expect when using their new purchase. Some people are quite likely to study the manual in order to utilize the suggestions and discover the possibilities which they could enjoy. Other folks may glance at some of the topics and then they will simply go ahead and learn through experimentation. When problems or questions arise, these guidebooks can be very helpful. Would you agree that too often some of the best options are overlooked when the guidebooks are not fully utilized?
Has it ever occurred to you that certain books in our Bibles can be seen as “instruction manuals”? The early books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy carefully outlined for the Israelites the ways in which they must live and worship. Proverbs helped the people to understand guiding principles for living life God’s way. As Jesus taught life lessons that are recorded for us in the Gospels, He explained not only who He was and why He came to earth, but what His Kingdom life was like. Finally the writers of the epistles gave us a clear picture of how the indwelling Holy Spirit would enable believers to live out their “new life in Christ”. The letter that James wrote to the new believers that had moved from Jerusalem to other localities in the region was clearly focused on helping them understand how to live out their faith in visible ways. In fact, James said that “if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions, what good is it?” (James 2: 14)
One of the amazing things about the truths which are recorded for us in our Bible is they are as true today as they were centuries ago. There is still nothing we can do to earn God’s love or satisfy His longings for us on own merit or through our own efforts. BUT GOD in His mercy gave to us through the death and resurrection of His one and only Son, Jesus, the gift of reconciliation so that all those who through faith become His child can begin to reflect His character and His love. How do we learn what that looks like? You just might want to see what the “manual” written by Jesus’ brother, James, has to say!