James 1: 22 – 25

But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves.  For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like.  But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act – they will be blessed in their doing.

Again James is concerned about our bend toward self-deception. 

If he were painting the scene for us western believers in the United States, 2012 … I think it would look something like this:

Meet Alice (if your name is Alice, rename this gal!)  She goes to church assembly almost every Sunday – and she loves a good sermon.  She wants her preacher to be strong, yet funny … intelligent, yet down-to-earth … Bible-centered, yet culturally up to date and relevant.  She wants him to think just like her and communicate their shared thoughts powerfully.  At the Sunday lunch table she discusses the quality of the sermon they just heard – evaluates it.  She may even carry her Bible to church and go to Sunday School.  She marks her Bible … with different colors!  Then during the week she goes to a Bible study … and does her lessons through the week.  BUT ALL OF THAT STUDY DOES NOT CHANGE ONE THING IN HER LIFE! 

She remains completely self -focused.  She rages when things don’t go her way.  She’s thinking about cheating on her husband … after all, he’s just not meeting her needs anymore and this guy in the neighborhood thinks she is something else!  She needs that.  She drinks a little too much – but just a little.  She shops a little too much – but just a little.  I mean, everybody has credit card debt, no?  And on and on we could go … but let’s stop.  You can see her.  Have you ever been her?  Are you still her? 

James wants us to be very clear on this point … if your Bible study does not make any difference in the way you think and the way you live, your choices, your lifestyle … it is useless … you are wasting your time. 

He then paints a comical picture for us.  Let’s keep creating Alice … she has just eaten a piece of chocolate cake with warm, fudge, drippy icing and has gotten a rather large smudge of chocolate across her cheek.  Assume that she looks at herself in the mirror, sees the chocolate, does nothing to clean it off, walks out of the bathroom and forgets about it.  She is later totally shocked when someone mentions the chocolate on her face.  How dare you!?  Me?! 

Poor Alice … she doesn’t understand that faith is to transform us into the likeness of our Lord.  It is not to give us membership in a club … or a school … or an activity center.  It is to transform us. 

So … for you and I … let’s commit to looking “intently” into God’s perfect law, that law of liberty that can free us from all kinds of bondage … and then respond … with doing.  We will be blessed.

Lord, as I look at myself in the mirror of Your word, I really do want to see clearly.  I really don’t want to forget what You show me.  I really do want to do what You are challenging me to do.  And since I just have today for sure … today I will do it.  Help me persevere all day long!