James 1:22-24

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.

Oh my, this verse is oh-so convicting. Sadly, I look at my self in the mirror over and over again throughout the day, often times forgetting what I look like. Christians tend to take this verse in the bible and think of it as a suggestion, not a commandment. I read through the bible thinking, oh isn’t that nice- isn’t that so great what Jesus’ disciples did- those stories are just so amazing. This is the problem, so many times we read the bible and forget that God didn’t just choose to tell us these things for our entertainment and to make us feel all warm and fuzzy, while sitting by a fire, sippin’ on some wine, eating bon-bons. Oh boy, here I go again thinking it’s all for my satisfaction and pleasure, to make ME “feel” good. He chose to tell us those things to actually get us off our butts and ACT on it. We are called to go out and heal people through God, to pray for people, to share Jesus, to make our own stories in 2011. The thoughts, purpose and motives behind those biblical stories haven’t changed from 2,000 years ago. And if we ignorantly choose to think it has, we are that “lukewarm” Christian Francis Chan warned us about in his book, Crazy Love. Scary stuff.

So many times Satan tries to lead us down the path of thinking, “it’s the thought that counts.” Even in small things like praying for people. How many times do you tell someone you’ll pray for them, without actually following through? You run into an acquaintance at the grocery store, they tell you a friend or family member is sick. You give a quick, “I’m so sorry to hear that, I’ll pray for you” response and go about your day without actually doing it. Ahh, I am so stinking guilty of that one. As Christians we need to get the “it’s the thought that counts” out of our little heads. It is NOT the thought that counts- it’s the action that counts and only the action that can make any sort of change in this world.

Biblical writing is action-oriented, and this is reflected in the language throughout the bible. All the verbs that we consider mental activities, such as; hearing, knowing, remembering, etc. are broadened to include their physical outcomes as well. Almost every place we see the word “obey” in English in the Bible, it has been translated from the word shema. To “hear” is to “obey!” This means ultimately listening should automatically lead to acting without hesitation. Verbs are considered be action-words, so how did the word “listening” get discredited as a verb over time? Reading & listening to the word should be instilled to automatically make us just do it!

This is the trap that Satan loves us to fall into, probably more than anything else. If he can let us convince ourselves that it is the thought that counts, he has succeeded. The bible just becomes this pointless story-book, instead of His living and breathing word to us. We are deceiving ourselves into believing that His word is something other than the truth. Yes, the bible is hard, convicting stuff. But, it was not intended to be used as a feel good resource. It was intended to move us into action, so we can share the love that Jesus has for each of us.