Monday, June 1, 2015

More Than Hearing

"But be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves." -James 1:22

          In my last article, I addressed the issue of not reading God's Word enough. I wrote about how it's the light that we must look to so that we can avoid the darkness of the world around us. But I neglected one thing: we can't just hear the words, but we have to act on them as well.

          If you continue with James 1, verses 22 and on until the end of the chapter, it speaks about true religion. We have already read through the 22st verse, but the ones after it state, "For if anyone is a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in the mirror." then skipping ahead to the last 2 verses in the chapter, "If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world."

          If you've ever taken any kind of writing or speech class, you will have learned that when presenting information, you need to answer the five questions of, "Who", "What", "Why", "Where" and "How". These verses answer these questions very well. So what is pure religion? And who does it benefit? Look back in verse 27, "Religion that is pure and undefiled before God is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world." Now I struggle with this as well, but it's not enough to just keep yourself out of the darkness of the world. But we also need to be constantly reaching out to those in need. Helping those who can't help themselves. Giving them fellowships when they are in need, bringing them food when they have a shortage, and checking in on them to make sure that they have everything that's necessary. I won't go into it much here, as I want to stop writing this article eventually, but we can read about this in Acts 9. We see here the story of how Dorcas helped those in need, and built up relationships with them, because she knew just how important it really was to those widows, and more importantly how important it is to God.

          The next questions we need to answer are "why" (the "where" in this situation is pretty self-explanatory. This applies anywhere and everywhere. In, and out of the church building.) Why do we need to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and why do we need to keep ourselves unstained from the world? Well, if we are to take in account Matthew 7:12 in that we are to treat others how we would like to be treated, and we take in account the numerous verses in the Bible about love, and how we ought to treat others with respect and patience, then this verse simply states the obvious. We are to care for those in need because we love them, and we want to help them. Not because we have to, but because we want to. 

          The final question is how do we do this? How do we keep ourselves unstained from the world, and how do we serve God instead of simply reading His words and pretending that we do them? Simple: we leave our comfort zones. We need to remember that we are not here for ourselves, but that this world belongs to God. We need to stop hearing, and start acting. Not that we should stop reading God's Word, but there comes a time when we need to act on it rather than sitting in our rooms and learning it. I once heard of a man who knew how to speak in several different tongues. He spent his entire life becoming fluent in many, many different languages. Once someone asked him, "Why are you learning all these languages? Do you plan on traveling a lot?" the man replied and said that he had no intention of traveling. He was far too busy learning all these languages!" What is the point in gaining information if we will never even use it? We need to act on God's Word, not just learn about it.

          Today, I would like to encourage you to look at your life, and ask yourself, "Am I deceiving myself, or am I acting on God's Word?" "Am I deceiving myself, or am I honestly doing my best to stay unstained from the evil of the world around me?" If you honestly search yourself and come to the conclusion that you aren't going out and doing God's will, then get up and call one of your widows. Reach out to that kid in class who recently lost their parents. Stop someone before they reach the door after services and show them that they're loved. Is this not true Christianity?