"Are You a Looker or a Doer?"
James 1:22-25 (ESV):
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.
Consistency is Key:
So many of us are off to a great start reading the Bible plan through in 2024. Hopefully, you're developing this extremely beneficial habit of daily delving into the Scriptures and discovering its transforming truth. Consistency is the key here! James points out in this passage the importance of "continuing in it"—the habitual execution of daily exposing our hearts to God's Word and its transforming power. I don't know about you, but in my own life, consistency has been a lifelong challenge. I was a great starter but not always good at sticking to the plan, let alone finishing. Laura, my best friend and life partner, was the one who helped me see the value of daily consistency in reading through the Bible. I had perfected the “quick look” in God’s Word—typically a familiar Psalm or a chapter in one of the Gospels, and then the proverbial check off the list! This bad habit I formed out of a sense of hurry—running out the door to work or trying to squeeze it in at the end of the day as I lay my head down to sleep. I gave it a quick look but not long enough to really think about applying any serious change. As I began to consistently, systematically read the Bible, I realized that subtle changes were taking place in my life. Faith was growing, peace was settling, the old flesh was dying, and the Holy Spirit was winning! It didn't happen overnight; it just happened gradually over time! It’s like hiking a mountain on a wooded trail, and at some point, you break out onto a clearing and suddenly realize how far you've come and how high up you've climbed! You can see far back down the trail where you started. The joy is in the journey!
A Long Look at the Law:
This passage emphasizes not a quick glance but a long look; an intent look. A look with the purpose of holding up the Scripture like a mirror and allowing it to look back at us. Are we ready to hold the Word up to shine the light on our lives? There must be a commitment to absolute surrender to change when God’s truth exposes areas that need changing in our lives. It's amazing how even on a “pre-planned” Scripture reading, God can sovereignly highlight areas in our lives where we need to surrender something or repent of sin. Maybe just the exact amount of specific encouragement we need. This passage in James calls God’s Word “The perfect law of Freedom”. Who knew that freedom is found in the “perfect Law”!? “The Law” is kind of a harsh word that comes from the original Greek language. The Hebrew language better translates law as “the teaching” or even “the beautiful instruction”. So as we look into God’s beautiful instruction for our lives and take the time to apply those instructions and become doers or practitioners of those instructions, we will experience those changes we have long reached for but never quite achieved.
Read, Look, Change, Repeat!:
So where would you say you are on this journey? Reading to ramp your walk with God up to the next level? Whether you're just getting started or you've been reading, looking, and changing for years, there’s always room to improve. Each step we take will bring us closer in our relationship with Jesus - The Author and Finisher of our Faith.
Heavenly Father, as we immerse ourselves in Your Word throughout this year, open our hearts to be not only hearers but doers of Your truth. May the Scriptures be a mirror revealing areas in our lives that need Your transformative touch. Empower us to apply Your Word daily, experiencing the freedom and blessings it brings. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.