“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 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 heard, but doing it – they will be blessed in what they do.
Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight reign on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. Religion that God our father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
Reveal to me your Word Lord. I am listening for you to speak.
“Do what it says.” This statement always sticks out to me when I read James 1. Don’t just listen to what the Bible says and deceive yourselves, James says, but do what it says. James then goes into describing an interesting yet accurate metaphor explaining this concept. Anyone who only listens to what the Bible says and doesn’t apply it to his life is like a man who looks at himself in the mirror and, after he walks away, forgets what he looks like. Now, what does this mean? For example, I wake up in the morning and look in the mirror. I have gross morning breath, crusties in my eyes, and my hair is everywhere. If I walk away without changing anything what good was looking in that mirror to me? None! So is the same for hearing the Word of God. If I wake up in the morning and read, or hear a teaching or sermon, but then proceed to doing nothing different, I am deceiving myself James says! Reading God’s Word is like looking in the mirror. The difference of this mirror however is, instead of seeing my flawed self, I see the epitome of perfection, Jesus Christ. Obviously there are things in my own life that do not line up with Jesus. That is where, as I read and hear the Word of God and see that a change needs to be made, if I do not make that change, if I do not apply the word to my life, I become that man who looks in the mirror and then immediately forgets what he looks like. It is of no use. Biblical wisdom is Biblical knowledge applied.
James continues. He makes a serious accusation against those who claim to be “religious” yet do not have a tight reign on their tongues. What does that mean? As a follower of Christ I am called to be like Him. Christ did not lie, he did not gossip and he did not wrongly represent God in heaven in the things that he spoke. So if I do these things, James says I am deceiving myself because at that point calling myself a Christian means nothing. And often times, I do just that. I read the Bible, then I forget what I read. I hear a teaching, and I do nothing to change. I know the Bible, but often times I refuse to accept it in a way that I live by it. The only thing I’m good at applying is Romans 7:15, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” So many times, every time, I wreck myself. I know what I want to do. I know what God wants me to do; but those are the hardest things to do. I end up doing exactly what I hate. I think I’m good, then right then and there the devil sticks his foot in the door and then proceeds to open it as wide as he can. Why God? Why do I always do what I hate? Why? I’m so sick and tired of it! The things I want to do are so hard to continue in. They are the things that I want to do. I really do. God you know I do. But why is it so hard? I know it’s because of my sinful nature. But I wish it could get easier. I want to follow you. I want to know you, know the intimate things about you. I want you to reveal to me your Word. Reveal to me the secrets in your Word. I want to grow completely reliant on you. Not my strength, but yours.
James closes chapter 1 with these powerful words, “Religion that God our father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” I want to be pure and faultless. But how? Caring for widows and orphans. Caring for those who cannot care for themselves. It is the greatest command, Love. Unfortunately most people stop after that statement but James continues saying, and to “keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” What does that mean? The world constantly does everything in its power to suck me in. The devil is the tempter, the world is the temptation, and I am the tempted. Every day I wrestle with the enemy in my mind. I am bombarded every second of the day with thoughts that are clearly of the enemy. Toxic thoughts. Sexual thoughts. Negative thoughts, constantly. I get so tired of getting wrecked by the enemy in my head that often times I don’t do what I should, “what I want to do.” 2 Corinthians 10:5, Take every thought captive. God knows I try. Sometimes I just get tired of failing at this all the time. God help me take these awful thoughts constantly thrown at me to you because I can’t do anything good with them on my own. They tear me apart. They tear me away from you! I feel far from you. I feel like I disappoint you constantly. I feel worthless.
God I know this is wrong thinking. I’m just tired of myself and need to share these things out loud with you. To kill my pride. To squash the misconception that I’m always okay. Thank you for your forgiveness. Remind me every day of that sacrifice you made for me. You came to earth for me. You died, the most gruesome of deaths for little me. Thank you Jesus. Wash my mind with your blood. Drown me in it. I want to be filled with you and nothing else. Grow in me the desire to do just that. I love you. Thank you for never leaving me.
Application: I’m sick of my mind being polluted by the world under my own supervision. I’m tired of sitting back and letting the devil abuse and dominate my mind.
How: Today, every time I am battling the enemy in my mind not only will I actively give my mind to the Lord in each moment, but I will tell Sean or Matt so they can pray for me. Why drown when I can call for help.
Thank you Jesus.