A New Year’s Clarity

On January 2, WordPress sent me a year-end summary.  I did a double-take as I read it, because it listed Blessings as the top-viewed post.  I have yet to figure out how the decision was made, because when I look at the stats page it’s not in the top ten.  To make matters even more confusing, WordPress agreed with me about the listing of the post I revised for A New Year’s Anchor of Hope, and another one that I also want to write about later.

This reminded me of some back and forth I had with someone the other week.  She sees herself on the inside and she knows her inner conflict—but I see her on the outside and I know the outer fruit.  While she is keenly aware of how she falls short, I have known her warmth and hospitality and friendship.

We get confused, don’t we?  About who we are, and what life is.  The world or co-workers or family give us their opinions while our own thinking may offer still another.  If we want clarity and truth we have to go to God. We hear truth from Him, in His Word.

James talks about the work of God’s Word in our life, and among other things, he compares the Bible to a mirror:

“In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures. This you know, my beloved brethren.  But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. Therefore putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls.  But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.  For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was.  But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man shall be blessed in what he does.”
James 1:18–25

James reminds us that through His Word, God gave us new life in Christ.  That provides the foundation for what he will write next.  In preaching on James 1:19–27, John MacArthur says:

“And frankly, a person’s attitude toward and response to the word of God is at the very core of their Christianity. That’s why we teach the Bible here. There’s really nothing else to say.

“In the section that I read to you, James makes two major themes clear and helps us to understand what is important about them. First of all, he talks about a proper reception of the word and secondly a proper response to the word.”

James writes next of anger, but he’s not suddenly changing the topic, he’s still discussing God’s Word.  MacArthur explains that James means:

“What he’s talking about here is when it comes to the hearing of the word be in a hurry to hear it when it comes to the teaching of the word slow down….

So James says, “I want you people to be eager to hear the word, very reluctant to be put in the place to speak it, and very slow to boil inside with resentment when you hear it.”

Remember the other day when I wrote, “Commands cut across our will and reveal our heart”?  When that happens we must be be slow to boil inside with resentment.  Do you see why James would begins by stating that through God’s Word they were given new life?  We have to remember and remind each other that we have been delivered from darkness into light, and that we were dead in our sins for we had disobeyed God because His will cut across our will.  We must remember where our pride and selfish ambition took us, put aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness and receive the Word with humility.  “…in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls.”

Those who only hear, but don’t do the Word only delude themselves, and James uses a mirror to make his comparison.  The person who hears, but doesn’t obey (remember this person deludes himself) is like someone who looks at the mirror and goes away and immediately forgets what he was like.  The other person, “looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer…”  The word for looks is actually two different Greek words.  John MacArthur states:

“The one who looks intently”, notice that in verse 25. It’s a different word than the word for look back in verse 24. It means to stoop down and look very closely with precision and care. And when you look into the word of God carefully, precisely, closely, it implies a stooping intently with an eager effort to see the truth of God. To discern you…to see what you’re really like. To let the word of God reveal you to you.”

We get confused, don’t we?  About who we are, and what life is.  The world or co-workers or family give us their opinions while our own thinking may offer still another.  If we want clarity and truth we have to go to God. We hear truth from Him, in His Word.

“But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man shall be blessed in what he does.”

Be blessed.

_________
Kakelugn med infälld spegel, Villa Victoria, Motala: Artifax
Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported.
John MacArthur: Grace to You: Responding to the Word.

Original content: Copyright ©2011 Iwana Carpenter

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