Oooo, I’ve gotta FIX this!
James 1:22-25 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. (NIV)
Have you ever been at an elegant social event for hours, talking with all kinds of people, and you step into the restroom, glance into the mirror and see that big dark green glob of who knows what stuck in your front teeth? Would you ever in a million years decide to leave it there and do nothing about it?
I doubt it. (Just like I would never in a million years film a video with messy hair and no makeup – unless I thought it might help me draw attention to a life-giving truth.)
If you’re like me, there have been other bigger “globs” in your life that kill your joy and freedom way more than a piece of chewed-up parsley clinging to your teeth. Yet, we can be quite complicated (and opinionated) creatures when it comes to the whole topic of freedom. Our human nature wouldn’t naturally jump on James’ “perfect-law-that-gives-freedom” bandwagon. (James 1:25)
What? Law that gives freedom? Don’t rules kill freedom?
I guess that would depend on who was making the laws.
#1 We can trust the Law-Giver.
Luke 11:11-13 “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (NIV)
We can’t even fathom His love, and yet we’re so prone to doubt it.
Obedience shows trust, even though you don’t have to trust in order to obey. When Jesus said to the guys, “Hey, Lazarus has fallen asleep. Let’s go back to Judea to wake him.” Thomas was sure they were going to be killed in Judea, but still he said, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” (John 11:16)
Had Thomas insisted on doing what he preferred, or doing what he thought was most sensible at the time, he would’ve missed out on watching the miracle of Lazarus being raised from the dead.
#2 Momentary pleasures do not equal freedom.
I can think of a few simple examples of my own:
Freedom to Choose Your Bedtime
Growing up, I never had a bedtime. My family’s last name should’ve been “Night-Owls”. I’ve carried on the family tradition of exercising my “freedom” to go to bed whenever I want. Admittedly, my “freedom” has resulted in many a groggy afternoon of wishing I had more energy to do the things I’m passionate about.
Freedom to Eat All the Sugary Desserts You Want
“Life is short. Eat dessert first.” This has been my motto off and on since childhood. I know better. There’s no way the fatty and sugary desserts are good for my long-term health, but I would exercise my “freedom” to eat the ice cream, cookies and donuts various times throughout the day – everyday. The two seconds of pleasure to my tongue doesn’t even compete to the greater health I feel now that I’ve limited my “freedom”.
Freedom to Spend All Your Money on Things You Want Now
As an entrepreneur’s wife, I’ve experienced some financial highs and some financial lows as well. As a couple, we were not always willing to be bogged down by the “law” of saving for a rainy day, or saving for retirement. Exercising our “freedom” in the good times stole any sense of freedom in those hard times.
These are just some obvious outward examples of fake momentary freedom stealing true lasting freedom, but the list could go on and on.
Consider the results of exercising your “freedom” to:
Hold a grudge
Control your husband
Never take a sabbath rest
Bash someone on Facebook
Seldom pray or read God’s word
The results of these actions are never life-giving. Obedience to God’s word brings freedom.
James was very articulate in verse 25:
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. (NIV)
First you look into God’s perfect law.
Then, you continue to look into it.
Next, you make sure you don’t forget it.
And saving the best for last – you DO it.
Jesus said in Matthew 7:24, “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock.”
But He said in verse 26, “Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does NOT act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.”
I know we all rather be on the rock than on the unstable sand. So here are a few questions I encourage you to consider this week:
Are there any of God’s words that you’ve heard, that you know you should be doing but you’re not?
Are there any of God’s words that you’ve heard, that have told you to stop doing something, but you haven’t stopped yet?
How about making even one change in your actions this week to live out the perfect law that gives freedom, and build your life upon the solid rock–Jesus Christ?
Let’s look into the mirror of His word, and no longer forget what we look like. 🙂