Finding Progress in 2018

“Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all his ways.” — James 1:8

2018 is a good time to “un-commit” to everything we are not sure or confident of.

By Tom Yerman

Throughout this year we will be faced with a variety of situations, ideas, and needs that will tug on our hearts: “Do this. Fix that. Do something!” As worthy as each of them might seem to be, over time they can accumulate…and weigh us down.

As these tasks and obligations accumulate, we can find ourselves mentally, emotionally—even spiritually—struggling over one or more of them, causing us to become bogged down. We may even find ourselves wrestling with doubt, doubt not just in what we should or should not do, but also in how we might do something.

The word doubt in James 1:6 is defined as being in strife with oneself, i.e., to doubt, hesitant, or waver.  In James 1:8, the person who doubts is described as being “unstable in all his ways.” The Amplified Bible adds specific detail: “in everything he thinks, feels, or decides.”

The beginning of a New Year is a good time to put aside things about which we are unsure or hesitant, trusting God for clarity and provision at the proper time.

A brother reminded me, “we can’t be totally committed to one thing if we reserve some commitment to things we are unsure of.” As we “un-commit” to everything we’re not definite about, we will find ourselves in a better position to totally commit to that about which we can be fully certain.

In other words, replace doubt about uncertain things with faith in what we know for sure. Faith must embody everything we do!

It is by faith we are saved, and it is with faith that we move forward. Faith is having a settled trust and confidence in God. It’s a practical matter that expresses itself in our daily lives—especially in the way we respond to all kinds of trials.

The stability of our faith affects the stability of our entire person, life, and ministry. As we move forward in the coming year, we must continue not only to maintain a sincere faith, but also to grow a stronger faith.

James helps us understand the importance of developing such a mature faith.

  • Faith produces perseverance when it’s tested.
  • Perseverance builds maturity when we let it finish its work.
  • In maturity, we lack nothing spiritually.

As we strive to live a life of faith distinctively expressed (not vague or doubtless), we must establish our faith, keeping it precisely focused. Our focus must remain on that which is stable and unchanging—something we can fully rely upon, something we can love with all our heart, something we can have an undivided devotion for, and something that is always good.

Let me give some color to that word good:

  • Good provides confidence.
  • Good is precise, flawlessly established with truth.
  • Good promotes a healthy self-image.
  • Good produces high standards.
  • Good points to an unmistakable path and future.
  • Good is proven, limitless, the best—in other words, perfect.

This “something” that is always good is better described as someone—namely, Jesus Christ. He is the one person in our lives who must matter most! Spiritual progress demands his kind of love, devotion, and drive!

Jesus is certainly the only one we can always rely upon to meet our needs and know without hesitation that God is with us: God cannot deny himself; he is faithful. As we keep in step with Jesus, we will find ourselves equipped for every good work—everything we exercise our faith to do. This is why we must consciously keep our mind, our energy, and our faith in Jesus—the one whom we can be definite about.

James 1:16-18 (ESV) states, “Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.”

Every good and perfect gift is from God. In his sovereignty and will he has given us a new birth. We are the first fruits, the initial harvest, who live anticipating the redemption of creation. Jesus Christ was born to die that we might live out the why he died—with, for, and in him. Let us “hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory” (Jas. 2:1) as we put aside the things we are unsure of and move forward in the things we are certain about.

In him, we find the inspiration and ability to progress both inwardly and outwardly. May our steps be firm and our faith rich as we progress and grow in bringing glory to him who loves us most!

The blessing and honor and glory and power are forever his. He is the Creator of heaven and earth and our Maker, who is absolute and infinite Lord over all. He is the Almighty and All-Sufficient One who is Sovereign and King. He is our Banner, our Victory, and our Covering, the completely Self-Existing One who is the great I Am. He is God, and our advantage is in knowing: God is!

I’ve shared my heart in this writing, but I would also like to share this video, which comes from John Piper. I took a moment to sit back, close my eyes, and be refreshed in the awe of the simple but profound fact that, God is. I trust you will be refreshed by it as well.

Tom Yerman is an FCA Pastor ministering at Living Hope Church in Elk Grove Village.