Daily D – James 1:22
But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. JAMES 1:22 (NLT)
Ninety-nine students out of one hundred will never learn algebra by listening to a lecture. Ninety-nine soldiers out of one hundred will never learn to hit a bullseye by watching someone else fire a rifle. Ninety-nine preachers out of one hundred will never help their listeners experience true transformation without helping them see what they can do about what a biblical text says.
The New Testament book of James is a book about transformation. Reading this book carefully makes you think James would not tolerate a politician’s faith claims who says, “I am a good Christian,” and then opposes cardinal truths of the faith. Christians In Name Only either need to start living what they say they believe or stop making false claims to gain votes.
Slide your finger down the page of James 1. In the first few verses after his personal identification, he says we should take a long-term view on problems (vv. 1-4). Nothing grows our faith like learning we can depend on God in the tough times.
Then he addresses our lack of wisdom for challenges of all kinds (vv. 5-8). He says we should ask and act. Ask God for the wisdom you need. Act according to the wisdom God gives.
James tells us that prosperity comes and prosperity goes (vv. 9-11). Character endures. He also says God’s reward for overcoming temptation is greater by far than what the temptation to sin promises (vv. 12-15).
He goes on to say we need to see ourselves as God sees us (vv. 16-18). God is the giver of all good things. He is the source of steady strength. We are his prized possession.
James says it may make us feel powerful to burst out in anger, but our offense at other people’s behavior is not what creates true righteousness (vv. 19-21). God’s truth turns righteous anger into righteous correction that saves, delivers, and heals.
Hop over today’s text to the final verses of this chapter (vv. 26, 27). True transformation changes the way we speak to ourselves and to others. It takes care of the most vulnerable among us.
True transformation, moving beyond living life as a Christian In Name Only, shows up in every area of our lives. It provides perspective. It shapes our thinking. It reorients our activity. It delivers us from evil. It empowers us to provide lasting change in a dark and tasteless world.
No fooling, we need to read God’s word, listen to God’s word, and memorize God’s word. Most importantly of all, we need to do what it says. Otherwise, we are only making fools of ourselves.
Transformation or foolhardiness: It’s our choice. It’s a daily choice. It’s time to choose for today. James might even say, “Choose wisely.” Which choice would you prefer to lie down with tonight?
I will put into practice what God says to do.
Our Father, I want to experience the true transformation of knowing what you say and doing what you ask. You provide all I need to live what I say I believe. Transform my life. Make me an agent of transformation. Amen.
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Deuteronomy 8:12-18 When you eat and are full, and build beautiful houses to live in, and your herds and flocks grow large, and your silver and gold multiply, and everything else you have increases, be careful that your heart doesn’t become proud and you forget the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery. He led you through the great and terrible wilderness with its poisonous snakes and scorpions, a thirsty land where there was no water. He brought water out of the flint rock for you. He fed you in the wilderness with manna, which your ancestors had not known, in order to humble and test you, so that in the end he might cause you to prosper. You may say to yourself, ‘My power and my own ability have gained this wealth for me,’ but remember that the Lord your God gives you the power to gain wealth, in order to confirm his covenant he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 “Listen, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol on your forehead. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your city gates.“
Deuteronomy 1:2, 3 It is an eleven-day journey from Horeb to Kadesh-barnea by way of Mount Seir. In the fortieth year, in the eleventh month, on the first of the month, Moses told the Israelites everything the Lord had commanded him to say to them.