Wednesday, October 5, 2011

James 1:22-27

22 But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.
23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror;
24 for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was.
25 But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man shall be blessed in what he does.
26 If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless.
27 This is pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father, to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

Doers of the Word
We discussed extensively in our study of Galatians how good works are the evidence of our salvation and how we obey God’s commands out of gratitude.  If we purport to follow God, but simply…don’t…it doesn’t reflect a changed heart.  When we accept Jesus as Savior, His Holy Spirit enters us, and the Holy Spirit’s whole job is to make us more like our perfect Christ.  But if we steel our hearts against Him by stubbornly refusing to allow His improvements, this transformation cannot happen.
I am reminded of the passage in Mark 4 where, after Jesus delivers a parable, there were listeners who heard in the physical, auditory sense, but they didn’t hear with their hearts.  But, some of His disciples (and a quick caveat here – “disciples” refers to not just the twelve apostles, but all His followers, e.g. us as well…see Mark 4:10) heard His teaching and wanted to apply it to their lives – to hear with their hearts – so they asked Him to explain more.
So, let me ask you – do you really want to draw closer to God?  Do you want to hear His voice, to see His miracles, to have His blessings?  Here’s what you do:
Firstly, dive into His Word!  Read it, study it, read/listen to teachings on it!  Because if you’re not even hearing His Word with your ears (or eyes), how are you supposed to hear it with your heart?
Secondly, obey Him!!!  Allow His Holy Spirit to work in your heart and change your life.

The Mirror
Verses 23-24 are really convicting me tonight as I write this.  It is so easy to be a “good Christian” in our “mirror time” – when we’re at church, or Bible study, when we’re saying our morning or night prayers, when we’re reading our Bible, etc.  But then, we go to school or work or hang out with friends, or even just get busy with our day-to-day lives, and we forget who we are.
So…who are we?  We are servants!  He saved our lives, we are now servants for life out of gratitude.  We are intended to do His will every moment of every day!  It’s not a popular teaching, but He owns us!  It is certainly important to focus on the other side of the paradox – that He redeemed us out of love, that we are His precious children – but that side is overtaught, and the slave side undertaught.
Think about the saying, “I gave my life to Christ.”  Sadly, what this means in the practical sense   is, “I (only...*cough*)gave my soul to Christ.”  But we keep much of our earthly lives for our own use.
Now think about this – in the Lord’s Prayer, we say, “Hallowed be Thy Name.”  What does hallowed mean?  It means holy, sanctified, sainted – all of which mean set apart for God’s exclusive use.  And…we bear His Name.  So what I’ve gotten in the habit of praying lately is that I, who bear His Name, actually work for His purpose this day.
For example, here’s one thing I did today that wasn’t what I should have done when bearing His Name: I didn’t obey the Holy Spirit’s nudge to witness to the guy smoking outside the Business building on my campus because he looked “scary.”  Not intuition-telling-me-to-stay-away kind of scary, just me-being-a-chicken-and-looking-for-an-excuse kind of scary.  The reason is I forgot who I am – in that moment, I wasn’t exhibiting God’s heart of concern for the man’s soul – I was focused on the earthly me.
We desperately need to be on guard never to leave the mirror.

Bride Your Tongue
Verbal sin was a big deal to James.  We’ll get *very* in-depth into this issue in chapter 3, so I won’t spend more time on it here.  Just keep in mind in context that he is saying that we claim to be Christians, then gossip and insult and fight…we do not “do” the Word, and we forget who we are.

Pure and Undefiled Religion
Something interesting I noticed about this verse is that it is exactly what Jesus said in Matthew 22, when He said that the entire Old Testament Law and the Prophets can be summed up by the commandments to love God and love others.  Consider that keeping yourself unstained by the world is a direct act of love to God, and helping the widows and orphans – helping all those who need it – is a direct act of love for others.
If we keep it constantly in our hearts to live out of love for God and others, we are being doers of the Word…and we will not forget who we are when we leave the mirror.

Today’s discussion starters:
(Note: One reader shot me an e-mail saying her comments weren’t showing up for some odd reason…if this happens to you, please shoot me an e-mail at with your comment in it, and I’ll plug it in manually and try to fix the problem from there.)
1 – Do you have personal experience with the mirror principle?
2 – Can you think of any Scriptures pertaining to today’s passage?
3 – I was thinking of doing some topical studies for some Sundays soon.  Is there anything specific you’d like me to study out and post about?

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