Mahatma Gandhi, a former leader of India, attended school at one time in South Africa. He often attended church, read the New Testament and yet he never became a Christian. He said he had the highest admiration for the Christian life and for the Christ of the Bible. Gandhi said he might have become a Christian if he could have seen one.
What does a Christian look like? James gives several marks of a Christian. His advice is to be “slow to anger” (1:19). We need to recognize that there are two kinds of anger – anger that is aroused when righteousness is opposed and anger that comes from personal hurt. James was talking about the anger from personal injury and sets us against our brother. That kind of anger ought not be in the life of a Christian. It is not good for the kingdom of God.
James says cleanliness is a vital part of the Christian life. “So get rid of the filth and evil in your lives ....” (1:21). As Christians, we need to get the garbage out of our lives – undisciplined desires, unholy temperament, untamed speech, unwarranted prejudice and unkind deeds.
James says we are to “humbly accept the message God has planted in our hearts ....” We are to incorporate his word in our relationships, our behavior and our beliefs.
James tells us that we are not only to hear the word but we are to be doers of the word (1:22-25). When we call ourselves Christians but fail to practice what we say we believe, we are not what we claim to be. A Christian is marked by a desire to do the will of God.
Control is another mark of the Christian. The genuineness of our religion is marked by the way we control our tongue (1:26). Words can be a tool for good when they are marked by good sense, good character and good will.
Compassion is a mark of a Christian (1:27). When we minister to the needs around us in the name of Christ, we are reflecting the kind of faith which is approved by God.
When people watch our lives, do they see any marks of a Christian? A Christian listens but he is also a doer. What in your life lets others know that you are a child of God?