“He chose to give us birth through the word of truth that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all He created.”
So often when it comes to the annual process of reflection that leads us to make resolutions regarding the coming year, we confine ourselves to the things that we will do. We meditate upon our behaviour and then come up with a list of those behaviours which we will change in order to make ourselves into better persons. We have been taught from infancy that we are to behave in a certain way. Somehow we find ourselves thinking that the improvement of our lives is entirely dependent upon ourselves. It is a matter of will power and effort. We can win at life, as defined by the world around us, if we just have faith in ourselves and work hard enough at it.
The problem with this approach to life and to transformation is that largely leaves our real nature, our flesh, untouched. Richard Lovelace commented in his Dynamics of the Spiritual Life that much of our behaviour as Christians leads our flesh untouched by God’s grace because it is merely the practice of worldly methods in the guise of Christian grace. D. M. Lloyd-Jones once wrote to his daughter that in the realm of Christian behaviour “to be always comes before to do.” What Lloyd-Jones was pointing out was that before we can expect Christian behaviour, even from ourselves, we must in fact be Christian. This is the work of God alone. It is He who, by the work of the Holy Spirit applying the Gospel of Christ to our lives, makes us into a new creation.
I believe that this is what James is writing about in the eighteenth verse of his first chapter when he tells us that God “chose to give us birth through the word of truth.” This is the same principle that the Lord Jesus Christ spoke about in John 3, and the Old Testament Prophet Jeremiah spoke about in chapter 31 when he introduced us to the New Covenant. Peter outlines it in the following way, “For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring Word of God.” (1 Peter 1:23) The making of us into Christian men and women is God’s work done within us. We therefore become people who begin to do naturally what God has created us to do by His grace.
As James outlines it for us God’s purpose is to create in us this new nature that will naturally produce the fruit of Godliness as we live out what God has created us to be. We are therefore people whose very existence is a kind of firstfruits of all that God has created. What this means is that our existence as believers is a guarantee of the full harvest of God’s people being drawn in. He is at work in us creating a people who will be in earnest to live a Christ like life. To be sure we live this life imperfectly, because we must still wrestle with our sin nature. However God is in fact at work in us. We must therefore trust ourselves to His grace. God’s sure and perfect work is being accomplished in us.
This year as we make our resolutions, let us make sure that we put at the top of our list, a casting of ourselves upon the LORD that His gracious work will be done in us.