By Vance Drum
Happy Independence Day! We thank God for our country’s bountiful blessings.
May we remember: “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.” [Proverbs 14:34]
On Sunday the Sunset pastor continued our Drawing Near to God series with a message, “Acting for God: Doing the Word.” The text (James 1:22): “Do not merely listen to the word…. Do what it says.”
The pastor made two points: (1) Law and Freedom; (2) Listening and Doing.
(1) Law and Freedom. V25 refers to “the perfect law that gives freedom.” God’s law gives freedom. There is no freedom, but only slavery, apart from God’s law. God’s law is mercifully given to guide us into right ways of relating to God and each other. What laws are we talking about?
The Ten Commandments are a good start: You shall not kill; you shall not steal; honor your father and your mother; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not bear false testimony.
Without these laws embedded in our hearts, we are apt to do anything, and our society would be chaotic. Even high officials may lie, kill and steal.
David the king of Israel committed adultery with Bathsheba, and then purposely had her husband put in the battle’s front lines so that he would be killed, thus covering up David’s sin. David was “a man after God’s own heart,” but in this instance what he did was not pleasing to God, and David and his family suffered consequences for it.
On this Patriotic Day weekend, it’s good to remember that even though we may have freedom to do the wrong thing, as David did, God sees all that we do, and God will bless or chastise us according to what we do. The one who (v25) “continues in the perfect law that gives freedom…will be blessed in what he does.”
(2) Listening and Doing. V22: Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” There is a grave danger in only hearing God’s word. Hearing His word is important, but if we only hear, but do not do what it says, we only fool ourselves.
Sometimes people are lulled into a false sense of security by thinking they have heard a good message from God’s word, and that’s all that’s required. The blessed man is the one who looks into God’s perfect law that gives freedom, and then “continues…not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed….”
God doesn’t want us to be only passive hearers of the word; he wants us to be doers—active activists for God.
Let’s look at four obstacles to acting on what we hear.
(a) Fear of making a mistake. Sometimes we are frozen by fear: we might do it wrong. Of course we will make mistakes. The only one who makes no mistakes is in the cemetery. New job? Getting married? Pray about it, get advice from godly people, live by the word, and go ahead.
(b) We’ve never done it that way before. Sometimes people say, We can’t do that, we’ve never done it that way before. But just because that may be the case doesn’t mean you can’t. No one in your family been to college? No one in your family is a Christian? You be the first.
(c) Don’t know how to do what you want to do? For example: The Great Commission: “Make disciples of all nations….” American churches have much difficulty here. It’s easier said than done. So, we have to learn; talk to successful people who are doing what you’re trying to do; pursue continuing education; then, trial and error; don’t be afraid of making a mistake.
(d) Lazy. One of the few cures for laziness is hunger. When hungry enough, physically or spiritually, we’ll do something about it. In the meantime, pray, prepare and act. God will be your helper.
“The Lord will send the rod of his strength from Zion… Your people will be wiling on your day of battle.” [Psalm 110:2-3]
May we be willing servants of the Lord Jesus—today and every day—our prayer for you from your friends at Sunset Christian Church.