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Doers of the Word

(James 1:13-27)

Lesson 10 -- third quarter 2008
August 3, 2008

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 2008

Scattered reflections from the text

Everyone is a doer. He who "is drawn away of his own lust" (14) becomes a doer when that lust "bringeth forth sin" (15). She who is "swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath" (19) is doing "the word of truth" (18). They who "lay apart all" (21) selfish and worldly contaminants, choosing instead of "receive...the engrafted word," are doers whose friendship is with God and not with the world. Anyone who looks carefully "into the perfect law of liberty" becomes a doer when that looking turns into purposeful faithfulness to the Word. Some doers control their tongues; others do not (26). Those whose friendship and kinship is with God exhibit the Father's compassion and holiness (27). What kind of doer am I?

"Do not err" (16) -- the pull of the flesh will always draw you away from God (14). "Do not err" -- wrong desires entertained bring forth sin, even for those who "will be careful" and "know when to stop." "Do not err" -- the end result of sin is death. "Do not err" -- your very own flesh will always lead you straight to death.

God desires that "we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures" (18). He wants us to be the cream of the crop of His creation. He wants each of us as that satisfying first produce from His garden. That's why we should "be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath" so that we might work "the righteousness of God" (19,20). That's why must "lay apart...and receive" (21). That's why we ought to be "doers of the word" (22). That's why He wants us to look into "the perfect law of liberty" and to continue faithfully in it (25). That's why He expects us to be of bridled tongue and of spiritually-perceptive heart (26). That's why He calls us to compassion and to ongoing separation from things worldly (27).

Genuine Christianity springs from the heart which maintain itself "undefiled before God" (27). True Christianity doesn't rely on an annual Spring Cleaning. No! Daily it sweeps down the cobwebs and scoops up the stray grass clippings and wipes off the dust and scrubs off the smudges. The heart after God makes no excuse for keeping and treasuring any spots of the world. How is your heart? How genuine is your Christianity? Or do you find satisfaction in some of what the world offers? Maybe you think your careful allowance of some things worldly doesn't affect you (and might even prove or enhance your spirituality). "Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God" (James 4:4). Whose friend are you? And whose enemy?

OK, so you had answers to all those questions in the previous paragraph. Would I get the same answers from the ringtones on your cell phone? Or from the station your radio is tuned to? Or the book on your pillow? Or that item on your cash register slip? Or the bookmarks in your Web browser? Or the CD in your player? Or the lyrics in your download folder? Or the words from your lips? Or the attitudes of your heart? Or your friendships? Or your appearance? Or? Or? Or?

I want to be a doer of the Word, not of the world!

Do and be blessed

I suppose that in all of history, God's people have never had the super abundance of Bible study resources that we have in our generation. It seems it surely has never been easier to accumulate knowledge from and about the Bible. I think that is wonderful. In this we have been tremendously blessed. And in this we have been made immeasurably responsible.

We must guard our hearts lest we allow knowledge to become its own end. In the Christian faith, we do not learn just for the sake of learning, nor do we study merely for the sake of knowing more. No! The driving force and the ultimate goal of Christian study and learning is knowing Christ and living His life. Listen again to James 1:22 -- "But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves." Those who complacently content themselves with mere knowledge have deceived themselves.

God gives knowledge and enlightenment to His people so that we might put to the practice what we hear and learn. Knowledge and understanding are not the end. They are the beginning. Remember always that "the doer of the work...shall be blessed in his deed" (James 1:25). While knowledge imparts its own satisfaction and blessing, living that knowledge brings far greater blessing: the approval and acceptance of God. "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven" (Matthew 7:21).

Have you looked recently?

Mirrors -- how handy they are! A single mirror could show me the condition of my face. Two mirrors properly employed together could show me the status of the back side of my head -- the cranial back forty, if you will. But no matter how handy a mirror may be, if I don't look in it, it is utterly useless to me.

God's Word is a mirror for our soul and spirit. But unlike a physical mirror, this divine mirror will do more than show us ourselves as we presently are. It will also show us what we ought to be and what we could become. Imagine that! If we say natural mirrors are handy, how would we describe this kind of spiritual mirror?!

God's Word bears another similarity to the mirror on the wall: If I don't look into it, it will do me no good. And yet another similarity: If I don't act on what I've seen, it will do me no good.

My friend, how recently have you looked into that "perfect law of liberty" with the intent of continuing faithfully in its precepts, striving to be "a doer of the work" (James 1:25)?

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