If you’re living a life of faith, you understand the value of God’s word. It’s a way for us to get closer to him, to understand his plan for us, to have him speak to us and to learn valuable lessons that are applicable to our daily lives. Each book has its own unique things to teach us and its own way of facilitating God speaking to us.
The book of James is no different. Even though it’s a short book—it only has five chapters—it’s a powerful one. Here are some things seniors can learn from the book of James.
Seniors may have been through many trials and tribulations in their lives. But as we age, these trials can take on new forms. The book of James tells us that trials are there to help us round out our faith. By engaging in, and coming through, the trials we face, we gain additional perseverance and wisdom.
Whether our trials are physical, such as the various physical signs of aging, or spiritual, such as questioning where our place is in the faith, they can help us grow. In chapter 1 verse 12, James tells us that we are blessed because we persevered through the trials, that those who withstand the test are promised the crown of life for having done so. The trials and temptations that come are a blessing to help guide us closer to God.
One thing that happens as people age is that they tend to build habits around certain things. Whether those things are good or bad, the power of habit is extremely forceful. The book of James reminds us that it's important to take a step back to listen and then act. In James 1:19, we are admonished that we should be “quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.”
Sometimes, especially as we get older, it’s very easy to think we understand a situation or conversation based on our experiences to that point. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. This is why we need to be extra careful to take a step back and truly listen with the intent of understanding before we speak or act. Because actions are important, as we will soon discuss, we need to be sure we have the information we need or else we risk misspeaking or jumping to anger over a misunderstanding.
Listening can be a great way to ensure you understand where family members are coming from with certain actions or thoughts. It can also be a good way to ensure you're able to find new friends in an assisted living community.
This is a common theme throughout many books in the Bible—that we need wisdom and that it must come from God. As James points out, there are many people with many things they can boast about that some would consider wisdom. But these things are all earthly and, as such, are easily corrupting influences. The real wisdom is that of God.
James says this wisdom that comes from God is “pure, peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” These are traits that can be cultivated as we age through following the discipline of acting in accordance with God’s will. It takes practice—no matter how old you are—to live out this type of wisdom.
All of the things that have been mentioned here and in the book of James center on developing one specific thing: Action. In chapter 2 verse 14, James highlights this by asking the question: “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds?” He then goes on to tell us that faith not accompanied by action is dead.
But what does this mean? Is our faith to be measured only by what we do? Of course not. What this means is that we are to express our faith by doing. By taking action for God, we are showing him to those around us through our deeds that honor him.
As seniors, sometimes it can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking that the time for action has passed. That we have lived a life of faith and performed enough actions that there is now nothing more for us to do. Or, that because we have aged, we can no longer adequately do anything for God except have our faith. James lets us know that this is simply not true, there are numerous types of actions we can take to express our faith and glorify God.
Just because we get older doesn’t mean we become useless and incapable of some kind of action. It might not look like what it did when we were 20, but there are still plenty of actions that can be taken. Abraham was well over 100 years old when he went to sacrifice Isaac—his age was not relevant to taking action on his faith. When God lays it on our hearts, our faith is demonstrated by taking the appropriate action.