Life Lessons from Hard Times – Studies in James
Few things frustrate me more, personally, or professionally, than the need to repeat myself, or remind myself, of what I or others have known, been requested or reminded of, and forget, ignore, let go, overlook, whatever. Now, to be sure, we all forget things from time to time. It is the human condition.
With auto-dialing, I don’t even remember my children’s cell phone numbers! But there is a more damaging pattern of forgetting – the intentional or negligent lack of consistency from lessons learned. I have neither the time nor the patience to repeatedly remind those around me of tasks to be done. There actually is an application of this issue in this early New Testament book.
James 1:22-25 22Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it-not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it-they will be blessed in what they do.
There is great value in life consistency, in lessons learned, and in lessons applied with consistency. James reminds us of these principles:
- Listening but Forgetting. The implication of this text is that this is intentional ignorance – of first knowing, at least cognitively, of life truths but looking away and forgetting. The walking away engages a forgetfulness, a failure to act. I am a big fan of habit, of ritual, of schedule (as you know from my prior observations about prayer) as laying down a pattern of behavior that produces maturity and blessings. God has little tolerance for intentional forgetfulness, and this is measured by way of what is done, or not done.
- Direction from the Mirror – Leading to Freedom. In this context, the mirror is “the perfect law.” The Law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. Psalm 19:7. The Bible measures our life by TRUTH, not by opinion, popularity polls or general consensus. The path to wisdom is from the Bible. Note that the promise is that this is the only path to true freedom.
- Life Blessings from Perseverance and Obedience – Just doing it and keeping at doing it. This is becoming a repetitive theme in our text. James 1:4; 1:12. The good news is there need not be confusion about what pleases God. It is not hidden. He gives wisdom and direction liberally. James 1:5. No guesswork needed. Just a commitment to not forgetting but consistency and obedience. Again the promise: “he will be blessed in what he does.”
The great thing about biblical promises is that we can believe it is true about us and our future because of the promises made and kept from the past. It was Jesus who said, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16. Then that promise was sealed by the cross and resurrection. You can take that to your “life bank.” No hope is more sure, more faithfully demonstrated, nor more certain for your future and mine. God’s best to you during this season and time.
– John Moore