Deception is something I hate! I don’t like to be lied to. No one does. It is disrespectful. It is selfish. It is harmful in so many ways. I find it very difficult to respect someone who is deceptive.
But sometimes, we deceive ourselves. Sad, but true. When we read the Word, but don’t do what it says, we deceive ourselves.
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does. James 1:22-25
You mean to tell me, I can deceive myself? Yes! You can read, memorize, recite, pray, and even preach the Word of God and still deceive yourself! If you don’t intentionally do the Word, apply it to your way of living, you are deceiving yourself. I encourage others to, “make sure you are taking in the Word of God everyday,” but it has to go beyond just reading it. God’s Word, the perfect law of liberty, should change us. The Word of God can transform us. Sadly, many fall short of transformation. We settle for entertainment, inspiration, and even education, but not transformation.
James uses an example that we are all familiar with, looking into a mirror. So many times, I look in a mirror and I clearly see what’s out of place. I see that I have a stray hair that needs to be tamed. I see that I have a little speck of glitter stuck to the side of my face. I see runny mascara that needs to be fixed. I see that my lips, teeth, or eyes need some extra attention. I see that there are many places that need attention. What do I do? I give those areas the attention it needs. If it’s a smudge, I clean it up. If it’s a hair out of place, I carefully place it back where it belongs. If it’s leftover glitter, I remove it. Any area of my face that has been neglected, gets the attention it deserves. As I look in the mirror, I see what needs to be done.
This very familiar example lets us clearly see how we need to apply the Word to our lives. We look into the Word. We read about the unfailing love of Jesus. We read about the beautiful character of Christ. We read about the nature and effect of sin on our lives. We read passages like “love your enemies”. We read “the fruit of the Spirit is . . .”. We read “turn the other cheek”. We encounter these Words of life and we clearly see smudges, smears, leftover residue, things out of place, and areas that need extra attention. But, what do we do?
Sometimes, we walk away! James says, “he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.” I’ve done this! Remember that left over glitter? I’ve looked in the mirror and observed it all over my face. I’ve gotten distracted before I cleaned it up, and walked away and forgot what was all over MY face. It wasn’t until I was walking past others and saw the strange looks, heard the snickers, or thankfully, the sweet person who said, “Um, you’ve got something on your face!”
It happens with our spiritual life as well. I looked into the mirror of the Word and it revealed to me that I had a problem with impatience. I got distracted from what God, through His Word, had revealed to me. It wasn’t until I was short with a student that needed help, or snappy with my husband when he didn’t move when I thought he should have; or worse, walked around with an attitude towards God because I didn’t want to wait. In the same way as with the glitter, someone sees the affects of my lack to apply the Word of God and feels the weight of my neglect. I end up with conflicts, fractured relationships, and a perpetual posture of disappointment. Hopefully, someone will say “Hey sis, you’ve got something on your face!”
It doesn’t have to be this way. James says, “But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.”
We cannot just look into the perfect law of liberty, but we must continue in it.
Don’t you want to be free?
James calls the Word of God the perfect law of liberty. He wasn’t talking about the Law as they once knew but rather, the truth of God’s Word that makes us free.
Freedom is not just the ability to do what you want. Freedom involves choice. When you choose to hear God’s Word and assume you will reap the blessings found there without any corresponding acts of faith, you deceive yourself! So many take this path and come to the conclusion that it just doesn’t work. Again I say, you’ve deceived yourself.
If you are a hearer and then follow-up your hearing with application—actually do what you’ve heard or read—you will be blessed in what you do.
James’ words here mirror Jesus’ words in John 8:31-32 “ThenJesus said to those Jews who believed Him, ‘If you continue in My Word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.’”
We have a bounty of blessings that stem from the Word of God. One of those blessings is freedom. The Word of God offers freedom! Being a doer of the Word will make you free. When you choose to continue–continually obeying the teachings found in the Word of God AND live in line with them—then, and only then can you be made free.