Cruising Route 66
What Punctuation Mark
Describes Your Life?
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4
Of all the books of the New Testament, James is the first to be penned to the New Covenant Church. It deals very little with the issues of doctrine, focusing instead on the expression of faith in a Christian’s lifestyle. In a world shaken by persecution and trials, James, the brother of Jesus, steps up to the plate and addresses practical Christian living, redefining what life is intended to be for those who profess their faith in Christ.
Rather than sharing biblical truths from the prophets to address the various difficulties his readers were facing, James puts the attention on the believers themselves. The Book of James is a precursor to the doctrinal thesis that will soon follow. In this simple, yet profound book, we are told to get a solid foundation set because what is about to be built upon it will change the world.
What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. James 4:14b-16
Ask for a definition of LIFE and no two people will give you the same answer, because we each have our own interpretation. The non-believer may see life as a cosmic accident, while the believer views life as a sacred trust from God.
For those who believe, there is a different definition of life and death. “Death is not a period but a comma.” In verse 14, James doesn’t give a definition of life, but rather expresses the shortness of it! According to James, human life is nothing more than a vapor when compared to the limitless expanse we have before us with God.
This gift of life, however brief, should be spent living in such a way that the One who created it won’t look upon His investment as a waste of time and effort. To measure the quality of our lives, let’s use some common punctuation marks. The use of these marks adds description to the written word. For example, a question mark signifies the need for additional information. There is something missing that keeps the reader from drawing a conclusion, or maybe it’s asking the reader to mentally respond.
A period at the end of a sentence signifies a “closed case,” a completed task with an accomplished mission. As we reflect on the variety of punctuation marks, consider which one you would use to measure the quality of your life.
The Question Mark Christian
What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? – Someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. James 2:14 & 18
When you look at your life, what do you see? Do you leave others with unanswered questions about your faith? Does your daily life cause people to wonder if you are really one of those “born again” Christians? Does the language you use “blow your cover?” If your unsaved friends found your credit card statement, what would they think then?
Our relationship with Christ is a marriage, He won’t indulge in Light Housekeeping; He won’t participate in sleep-in arrangements just so we can slip out when we’re bored.
The Period Christian
Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. James 3:13-14
This is the Christian who rests on past achievements. They already know all there is to know about God. They’re closed to new ideas, ministries, or methods. They place a period after their name because, as far as they’re concerned, they’ve gone as far as they are willing to go.
The real tragedy with Period Christians is that they’re not disabled, nor are they dead. It’s understandable that a disability or death will put a period at the end of your sentence. Unfortunately, when those who are trained, and blessed with resources, place a period after their names, they become a part of the Living Dead.
Jesus once said, “Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead.” (Matt. 8:22) In other words, there are enough spiritually dead people to take care of the final arrangements for the physically dead.
The Hyphenated Christian
Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water. James 3:10-12
These are the folks who suffer from Spiritual Schizophrenia. They have a split personality. You have to hyphenate their two separate lives, kind of like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Sunday is Jekyll’s day, but on Monday, Hyde returns. No single definition describes their personality, nor is there a simple explanation for their erratic and unpredictable behavior. They’re subject to acts of Sainthood as well as acts of SIN. They shout on Sunday and Pout on Monday. They’ll hug you in the church and mug you on the street. In the pew, they’re angels singing Hallelujah; at home, they’re devils screaming obscenities. These folks can look you right in the eye and talk about God, while in their heart, the devil can be at work.
The Comma Christians
Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. James 1:12
A comma is a small punctuation mark, which separates words, or phrases. A comma is never used at the end of a sentence. Whenever you see a comma, you know that there is more to come. That’s what a comma does. It warns you that more will follow.
Pastors love Comma Christians. These folks will work on a major project, but never consider their service record complete. Comma Christians may belong to one organization, but they will support the program of another. They pitch in at a moment’s notice without complaint, and when the call goes out, they’re first in line to help.
The Exclamation Point Christian
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. James 5:16
The exclamation point signifies some dynamic, powerful, and enthusiastic interjection. They’re reserved for profound accomplishments that excite the spirit and set our hearts on fire. An ordinary life won’t get an exclamation point. No sad-sack Christians. No “Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen” Christians. The Exclamation Point Christians have something to shout about. They make a joyful noise of praise! Their spirits are overflowing with Hallelujahs for the Savior who died to save them.
So, let me close by asking you a simple question, what punctuation mark best fits your Christian walk?
Until next time,