Helping you grow closer to God
Download the Chip Ingram App
Resilient Resources on sale now.
About this series
Withstanding the Storms of Life
What’s the key to standing strong in the storms of life? How do we keep getting up no matter how many times the waves of trial and discouragement knock us over? One word – Resilient. Chip and Ryan Ingram team up on this series from James, Chapter 1, to remind us that God has given us all the resources we need to come out on top, regardless of what’s going on. If you’re looking for inner strength and outward power to withstand the toughest of circumstances, “Resilient” provides the guidance you need, to not give up or give in.More from this series
We have been talking about this idea of resiliency and what resiliency really is it’s the ability to withstand or to recover from a difficult situation. It’s this ability to stand strong in the face of a storm, to be knocked down, but the ability to get back up. And so we have been asking and wrestling with this question: how do you have resiliency in the face of a difficult situation?
When things at home are maybe a struggle or things at work or the future is uncertain, how do we have resiliency in this? And we have been studying the book of James. If you want the full context, you can actually go back and look at Acts chapter 8 and see the moment of what he is navigating. James was the half-brother of Jesus. He was the leader of the church in Jerusalem and the church had just experienced intense persecution and everyone was scattered from their homes and afraid. Their lives were upended in this moment.
And that’s why he opens up his letter to them this way.
It says, “Consider it pure joy,” or, “all joy my brothers and sisters whenever you face trials of many kinds.” And we are all experiencing different kinds of trials, even though we are all in this same trial together, isn’t it true?
And he says, “Consider it joy,” you can actually reckon it joy in this moment. Why? Because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. It develops this ability to remain under, this strength to withstand. It develops when we persevere – a resiliency.
“Perseverance, it says, “must finish its work.” We must allow it to finish its work – why? “So that we can be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” I think this is such a great picture of what it looks like to be resilient in our day, of what does it look like with good times or bad times? In difficult situations and when things are going great to be a person who has been developed to the point where there’s this maturity, there’s this wholeness. Where your circumstances don’t determine whether you have or lack anything.
And so, we have been wrestling with this idea of resilience and talking about it’s tempting. Like, how do you have resiliency in the face of temptation? What do I do when temptation knocks?
It’s emotional. How do you navigate the destructive emotions that we are all experiencing? This is an emotionally disorienting time, isn’t it? And what do I do with the emotions inside of me?
It’s powerful. And our response to God’s Word and what it does to transform us.
We are going to talk about: it’s practical. Like, James is going to get really practical. Like, what do we do? And maybe, have you ever wondered as we have been talking about this, like, what do resilient people do? What are their habits? What are their practices? What do they do whether it’s a good time or a bad time, the circumstance may change, but these activities, these practices do not change?
And what we are going to discover, there are specific practices of resilient people, regardless of their circumstance. And so, if you’ve got your Bible, would you open up to James chapter 1, verse 26?
He begins this way, “Those who consider themselves religious,” religious is, you know, we don’t naturally think of ourselves as religious. We think of ourselves as spiritual. He says, okay, well then say, “Those who consider themselves spiritual,” or those who consider themselves a Christian, those who consider themselves a follower of Jesus. This word religious refers to the outward acts of worship.
“Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves and their religion is worthless.” Then he goes on, “Religion that God our Father accepts is pure and faultless is this: “To look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
It’s practical. In fact, what we are going to see is there are three specific practices of mature followers of Jesus. Or better yet said, resilient people. What are these three practices?
He is going to first say mature followers of Jesus, those that have been refined and are resilient, the first practice is they actually have the ability to bite their tongue.
They have the ability, as James says, to rein in their tongue. That word rein is the word bridle. It’s the picture of a bit in a horse’s mouth that controls it, that you bridle – you’re able to hold in check.
You notice he said, “Those who consider themselves religious,” that are like, “Hey, we are in this. We are followers of Jesus,” and yet, if you’re not able to control what is coming out of your mouth, he’s going to say something pretty powerful. He’s going to say we deceive ourselves.
That word deceive, one writer says, “The self-deceived person is the one whose religious acts do not make a difference in the way they live.” Like, I am worshipping God, but then my words that come out to my neighbor, my words that come out to my kids, my words that come out about my coworkers are just cutting.
He says you can’t be worshipping God and say, and then have your words tell a different story. And this is what James is doing. He’s actually connecting our understanding of worship with our understanding of wisdom and saying those two go hand-in-hand.
Proverbs talks a lot about this. Think about this. Proverbs 10:19, “Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongue.” Proverbs 11:12, “Whoever derides their neighbor has no sense, but the one who has understanding holds their tongue.” Proverbs 17:27, “The one has knowledge uses words with restraint.” This whole idea of bridling or holding back our tongue, like spiritual…this practice of, okay, it’s starting to come and I’m going to hold it back.
Well, why does James go to the extent of saying, man, your religion is worthless. That’s kind of harsh and I know it’s pretty convicting for me. Well, he’s building off of what Jesus was saying Luke chapter 6, verse 45. Jesus has something that’s so powerful and poignant when it comes to our words and revealing.
He says, “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” The mouth speaks what the heart is full of.
So, this is why this is so important. See, I think when we think about our words, we are just like, “Wow, I didn’t mean to say that.” Or we might say, “I’m just trying to be honest. Keep it real.” It just slipped out and it’s no big deal.
And what Jesus would say is that what comes out of our mouths actually reveals what’s going on inside of our hearts. Like, what is flowing out of our mouths, and especially in these moments, in these crisis moments, it begins to reveal the condition of our heart. It’s not just a thoughtless word or just, “Ah, I didn’t mean it.” Jesus would say, no, there are actually some heart things going on in there. In fact, here’s what, just imagine, if you had a dog that ran up and jumped on you right now or maybe your kids jumped on you right now. Or maybe your roommate bumped you. And what you know and what I know is the minute we get bumped, the contents in your cup and my cup spill out.
And whatever the content is is what is going to spill out. And so if you have orange juice, orange juice is going to spill. If you have coffee, coffee is going to spill. If you have water…
And here’s what Jesus is saying when it comes to our words, like, what spills out of your mouth when you’re bumped is revealing the contents of your heart. He’s like, what is that?
And this is why this is so powerful, this practice in these seasons of resiliency of, like, okay, I’m going to be so aware of my words right now. Because I know that it’s pointing to something in me that has this potential to spill out and it’s actually pointing to some heart things. It’s like an indicator. I’ve got to be aware of my heart.
Let’s think about this, maybe reining in when bumped, maybe for some, gossip word that come out or boastful words. Maybe it’s slander, you’re cutting someone down or criticism. It’s easy when bumped, I think in this season for me to go towards the naturally negative.
Or maybe it’s crude and maybe it’s harsh words. For you, as you have been bumped, we have all been bumped, what’s been coming out? What has been spilling out? And Jesus would say it’s going to reveal something deeper in our hearts.
When we were talking about “it’s emotional,” and I was talking about anger, I’m trying to gather the whole family to sit down and watch the service together and Miles was getting up, going over here and Ryder is going over here. And I couldn’t get everybody all focused. And you probably have had this same experience. I’m trying to get everyone focused. And I’m finding, as we are about to watch me talk about anger, that I’m getting angry in the moment and getting frustrated with my kids. And I’m just like, and my kids can feel it. And my daughter Ella just was like, “Are you getting angry and going to talk about anger?” I’m like, “Oooh! Kids, man!” And she was right.
See, sometimes what gets bumped is just frustration and these emotions. And it’s just that indicator of something deeper going on inside of me. And so, what the mature person of Jesus or the resilient – they have this ability to bite their tongue and then bring their heart before God.
See, it’s like I can bridle it, I can hold it in, and that takes a process, that takes time, it just takes awareness. But then it’s like, okay, I’m going to bring my heart. I’m going to bite my tongue, I’m going to bring my heart before God.
The first area, bite your tongue. Second, roll up your sleeves and love. Notice what he said, “Religion or worship, spiritual acts that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this, to look after orphans and widows in their distress.” He’s going to say resilient people don’t simply look in and try to figure out how do we just make it through? What they have the ability to do is they are going to roll up their sleeves and look out and go, “Who can we love?”
Who can we love? Who are the people that God has put along our paths to be the hands and feet of Jesus? This word look after means to go see a person with helpful intent. It’s actually proactive. I’m going to go see a person. I’m going to go out of my way and my heart and my intent is: how can I help? In what ways can I bring aid and hope to you?
The apostle Paul would say it this way in Galatians 5:6, the only thing that counts, think about this, that’s a big statement. The only thing that counts is faith. Faith is the confidence that God is who He said He is and He will do what He said He will do. Faith, your worship with God, expressing itself through love.
That we are fundamentally, regardless of what the circumstances are, to be a people of love, marked by love. In fact, the early Church in the moments of crisis were fundamentally known for their love. When plagues hit a town, they would risk their lives to care for sick and to bring aid while everyone else fled.
He says, “Roll up your sleeves and love.” This gets back to the heart of God. Micah 6:8 says, “He has shown you, O man, what is good. What does the Lord require of you? But to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” That we are supposed to have this combination of just acts and love of mercy that looks after the most vulnerable and hurting in our society.
Psalm 68 talks about that God is a Father to the fatherless. That He’s a defender of the widow. That He sets the lonely in families. Like, that’s the heart of our God and so that is to be the heart of us.
And so, followers of Jesus, we are to roll up our sleeves. Really resilient people have this practice, whatever the season, and we are going to love. Well, who are we going to look after? We are going to look after those who often get looked over. We’ve got to look after those that so often get looked over.
Well, who are they? First, it’s the vulnerable. It’s the vulnerable. Maybe vulnerable economically. Maybe vulnerable when it comes to health or age. Think about the foster care system.
The vulnerable. The ostracized. The outcast. The overlooked. As followers of Jesus, we are to be a voice for the voiceless. We are to lean in and call out for justice. We are to be a people that says, “Okay, we are going to fight for those who aren’t able to fight on their own to bring about healing and hope and life.
See, this is just what it means to be a follower of Jesus, no matter what season. The vulnerable, the ostracized, and the invisible. The people we don’t see, the people that we tend to overlook. I think in this season, the invisible is often the homeless and what they are going through.
Invisible might be a neighbor that you just really had no idea what they were going through because we often don’t ask maybe that deeper question and know what is really going on in their life and their struggles. It says, “Roll up your sleeves and love.”
My friend Christina says it this way, “You don’t have to look hard to find pain and hurt.” And boy isn’t that right? You don’t have to go far. We just have to start looking. We have to do that look after instead of looking over.
As this season hit, I have one neighbor down the street, she lives on her own, she’s an older lady. And I just wanted to go, “Hey, however we can help. Whatever you need.” And she emailed me and said, “Hey, could you run and get this prescription?” Or, “I need this picked up at the grocery store.” It’s just a simple, simple way. Because I think sometimes we hear this and we think it has to be big, grandiose or…
And I think really it’s just what Andy Stanley said so many years ago, “Do for one what you wish you could do for everyone.” See, we get overwhelmed by the needs, we get overwhelmed by the pain around us, and so unfortunately what happens is we end up not doing anything at all.
And so, you can’t do everything for everyone. But you can and I can do something for someone.