Resolve to Apply the Bible in 2019
So far, we have talked here about the importance of being in the Word, whether through personal reading or studying it in a group setting. Of course, that is very good. But it will have no value if the time we spend in the Word doesn’t produce fruit in our lives and in the community around us. And not only will it be of no value – as if it were merely wasted time; according to James, it is even worse than that.
Listen to what James says: “…Receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves (James 1:21b-22).
What do you mean, James, when you say deceiving yourselves?
Do you mean that after I listen to a sermon on Jesus being the King and nothing changes in the way I live my life or how I leverage my resources, I am living a lie?
That if I sit through a Bible study that clearly calls me to love others with a steadfast kind of love that doesn’t seek its own, and nothing changes in my relationships, I may be deceiving myself?
That if I read, in my reading plan, Romans 3:23-26 on being justified by faith and I don’t grapple with the hard questions and ask: “Lord, show me where I am relying on my own effort to win your favor?” – I may be okay with what Jesus vehemently opposed; namely, self-righteousness?
That if a mentor shows me the words from Matthew 16:24: “follow Jesus… take up the cross… lose your life”, and I stick with my old ways because that is how I roll (and besides, everyone has issues!) I may be, in fact, following the father of lies, who is bent on keeping me blind to the truth?
C.S. Lewis (among others) noted that the worst kind of deception is self-deception. It is the worst kind because we are masters at talking ourselves out of what is true and best for us. And unless we let God’s Word transform us, this self-deception will continue blinding us to truth. The answer, then, is to not be deceived and instead to be doers of the truths that God is purposefully sowing into our hearts each day, each week, and each month through his Word.
What does being a doer of the Word look like? Consider a few hypotheticals… 🙂
When you sit under a series of sermons on the Kingship of Jesus, don’t just hear the words. Instead, ask hard questions and ask for God’s help! Am I holding on to my own kingdom? Lord, give me the strength to surrender to your rule in real ways. Show me how to use what you have given me in ways that show genuine submission to your Kingdom. And then be practical – look hard at your schedule and expenses (and etc.) and consider ways to leverage your resources so that you aren’t just serving you and your family. For the Kingdom’s sake, make some room in your life to serve others.
When you go through a study of Colossians and the words from Colossians 3:13 jump out at you: “bearing with one another”, instead of doing what you always do – listing the reasons why a certain someone in your life is, and shall remain, unbearable – think about how to obey the words that are there: “Bear. Set your mind on Christ. Let His peace rule”.
When a friend prays over you the words from Matthew 6:25-33: “Do not be anxious… For your heavenly Father knows”, don’t dismiss this as a platitude. Instead, cling with all your soul to these words and fight to keep your thoughts in check and flowing in one direction: the Father is good. He knows. Don’t be anxious. Trust.
Being a doer of the Word is more than just showing up on a Sunday morning or attending a Bible study. It is more than reading passages each day from a reading plan. This process requires submission to his rule and relying on his strength to do it. It requires frank and gritty honesty. And it depends on the Body of Christ because, as we come together, we remind each other and spur each other on to walk in a manner worthy of the Gospel. To be doers of the Word. And this is profoundly good for us. Because, according to James, being a doer of the Word will make you a blessed person (James 1:25).