I hope you had a great Easter. It is one we will most likely remember for many years to come. While we were unable to come together physically as a church family, we had the joy of being able to celebrate our risen Savior. Thank you for continuing to be committed to worship!
Dr. Reccord’s message reminded me of the restoration I received from the crisis of sin that held me captive. As followers of Christ, I can imagine we were all reminded of the victory Christ obtained on our behalf when He was resurrected. We have been restored in the midst of crisis! (We should never forget, there are others who have yet to be restored. God wants to use us as His representatives in that restoration process!)
We have been reflecting on the message James shared with his brothers and sisters in Christ after persecution in Jerusalem resulted in a dispersion of believers throughout the world. In our last devotion on James, we had an opportunity to consider the four steps in the process of receiving God’s Word: First, getting prepared to receive it. Second, Receiving it with an attitude of humility. Third, focusing on the truth we are receiving. Fourth, letting the word of God “save us.”
After receiving the Word of God, it is important to become obedient to it. “Do not merely listen to the Word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the Word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it – not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it – they will be blessed in what they do.” (James 1:22-25)
In verse 18, James shared that God “chose to give us birth through the Word of truth.” Since we have been “born” through the Word, it seems reasonable to conclude that we should live through the Word because it is only through the Word that we can live the life He has given us.
There is only one Way to live through the Word – to become obedient to what it says. The prophet Samuel shared that truth to King Saul when he was disobedient to God’s command: “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.” In Old Testament times forgiveness of sins occurred through the sacrificial system. However, even in that period of biblical history God was impressing upon those who followed Him the necessity of being obedient to Him.
The apostle John reinforced our responsibility to be obedient to God’s Word. “You are my friends if you do what I command.” (John 15:14) “If you love me, keep my commands.” (John 14:15) “And this is love: that we walk in obedience to His commands. As you have heard from the beginning, His command is that you walk in love.” (2 John 1:6)
We will not be able to live through the Word if we don’t KNOW what it says. Furthermore, we won’t REMEMBER what it says unless we spend time intently reflecting on it. “I have hidden your Word in my heart that I might not sin against You.” (Psalm 119:11) James then reinforces that truth with a great example.
James contrasts a person who looks at himself in a mirror and then forgets what he looks like with a person who intently reflects on God’s Word. Maybe we should begin by asking this question: why do we look at ourselves in a mirror? Most of us don’t spend a lot of time admiring ourselves in a mirror unless we are self-absorbed or worried about how we look. Most of our “mirror-time” is probably spent in the morning when we are getting ready for the day’s activities.
After leaving the mirror, our attention is focused elsewhere – the distractions of the day. The events and activities that demand our attention prevent us from spending the day focused on how we appeared in the mirror. In fact, it is possible we question the “maturity” of someone so vain they are constantly looking at themselves in a mirror!
James is encouraging us to do just that with the Word of God – to look at it intently, constantly meditating on it and continuing in it. “Continuing in it” is another way of saying being obedient to it. James is describing people who don’t forget what they have read/studied. They are constantly referring to the Word throughout the day, with each twist and turn of the day, with every moment – similar to that person who is constantly looking at themselves in the mirror!
Faithful followers are not only reflecting on the Word, but they are DOING WHAT IT SAYS! James shares the result of that constant reflection? “They will be blessed in what they do.” Jesus said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the Word of God and obey it.” Our obedience comes when we get the Word implanted into our heart. It cannot grow if it is not first implanted. When it grows, obedience should be the natural result and obedience leads to blessings!
James refers to the Word of God as the “perfect law that gives freedom.” Tomorrow we will take a closer look at what James meant when he states the perfect law gives freedom.
Have a great day!