November 12, 2007

I do!

This morning I was reading along in one of my second most favorite books in the New Testament - James (Next to 1st John!). What I like most about James is his straight forward attitude on subject matters such as godly living, temptation, selfishness, and idolatry (I mean c'mon any guy that says "Come now, ye rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. Jas 5:1-2 is a pretty straight forward kind of guy!) Let's face it James was probably the kind of person it didn't take long for you to figure out where one stood with him. As I was reading my bible this morning I came across James 1:21-25:
Jas 1:21-25 Therefore, rid yourselves of everything impure and every expression of wickedness, and with a gentle spirit welcome the word planted in you that can save your souls. (22) Keep on being doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. (23) For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at himself in a mirror. (24) For he studies himself carefully and then goes off and immediately forgets what he looks like. (25) But the one who looks at the perfect law of freedom and remains committed to it-thus proving that he is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of what it requires-will be blessed in what he does.

I think what is so interesting about these verses is it truly tells us how James thought a Christian should behave. First, one is to rid themselves of everything sinful and every "expression of wickedness" - I don't know about you but this is pretty straight forward - no sin period! Next, with a gentle spirit we are to take the very Word of God and plant it into our hearts. James is using a phrase from the Parable of the Sower here to reemphasize that it is by the very Word of God (God's Truths) planted and cultivated in ones heart that will save your soul. I think most Christians think that the phrase "Word of God" here is representative of both the New Testament AND Old Testament, but one needs to remember the canon as we know it will not be fully formed until several hundred years after this letter by James is written. Therefore the Word of God is the teachings of the Old Testament and the words of Christ as handed down by the apostles.

Secondly, James informs us to be "doers" of the Word of God. This word in the Greek is poietes, meaning to "act out" or "perform". This literally means to take action or perform. Now according to most Reformed or Calvinist theology, we often hear that we can not help but sin - as we are "Totally Depraved" in our nature. But James apparently doesn't see it this way at all - instead he gives very concise instructions to the church in Jerusalem to abstain from every form of sin. If we think and meditate on these words from James we will see that God desires people who truly love him and want to bring Joy to his heart. How does one do this? By becoming "doers" of righteousness motivated out of supreme love for our God and King!

Thirdly, we see James say that if we see someone of the faith that hears the Word of God and then goes out and forgets what God has instructed him not to do - is like one who looks into the mirror and forgets what he looks like. Now not to seem too blunt here, but if in actuality we were to meet a person such as this - whereby he looks at himself in the mirror and minutes later totally forgets who he is, we would tend to think this person is one who has been mentally incapacitated or as we say here in the South - "that boy isn't real bright - bless his heart!". I truly think that is what James was trying to get across to his audience here, by saying in a very blunt and straight forward way - is if you can't remember the Truths of God one minute and then turn around and sin, then I am sorry your a half-wit. I realize some will not like this expression, but take time to read and really think about what James is really saying here. This is not to be mean in anyway, but I think James is trying to show us just how serious we need to treat this issue.

Finally, I hope that we all can take instruction from James, whereby when we hear God's Word we will not forget about it and continue with the status quo, but rather let His Word take root in our hearts and transform us into one that brings God real glory and honor - through our faith in Christ that produces action in our lives.

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