Dealing with stress and worry – James 2:1-13
James 2:5-10 : ‘Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Is it not the rich who oppress you and personally drag you into court? Do they not blaspheme the fair name by which you have been called?
If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law according to the Scripture, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF,” you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all. (New American Standard Bible)
I woke very early this morning with the intention of finding some time to spend in the Word before my kids woke up. And while my cup of tea was doing its best to rouse me for the task, the high pitched ‘daddy!’ of my nearly 3 year old pierced the silence. And it wasn’t the ‘daddy’ that promises a return to sleep, but the ‘daddy!’ that declares sleep is absolutely finished – no debate. So I set little Jack up in front of Playhouse Disney and decided before I opened the Word to check out my various FB pages and inboxes. And that wasn’t a good experience.
The number of people I am reaching online has increased dramatically in the past 6 months and with it has come an increasing number of messages and expectations. I welcome the messages! This is a big part of my ministry I love, but the volume has suddenly increased and I have been unable to answer each one as I would hope. And this really stressed me this morning. Not a good start to the day!
Eventually I found some time alone to journey deep into James 2:1-13 and one statement stood out: “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF” I decided to spend my time finding out just what this means and what I discovered gave me amazing perspective on my stress!
In Mark 12: 29-31 Jesus states:
Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘HEAR, O ISRAEL! THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD; AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.’ “The second is this, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
The charge to love my neighbour as myself is one of the two greatest commandments – that is really big. And what is key is that first I am to love the Lord my God with absolutely everything I have and I am – my heart, soul, mind, and strength. And I realised that I need to love God completely so that I can love my neighbor. My love comes from God for as 1 John 4:7-8 states:
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.
So who is my neighbor? My neighbor isn’t the limited notion I have today of the people living next door, but of all those I come into contact with.. like those I have contact with through Facebook and my blog. If I have contact with you, then you are my neighbor!
So I started my time in James 2:1-13 stressed and worried at my inability to answer the many wonderful messages being sent me, and I finished my time realising that I need to work harder at loving God with all that I am and all that I have. My heart: offering praise and adoration; my soul: dealing with my sin; my mind: committing myself to the study of the Bible; and my strength: seeking to serve others where possible.
It starts with God.. my love of others will grow as my love of God grows. As Cindy Murray Traves stated on my Facebook page: ‘Take time to continue building ur relationship with God, not jus helping others to build theirs.’
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