But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. – James 1:22
Jesus may stand with arms open wide, offering grace and mercy to absolutely anyone who wants to come home; but at the same time the Lord is very clear as to what he expects. “If you love me then it’s going to show in the way you act!”
Over the past few weeks I’ve been posting this running commentary on our men’s ministry study of the New Testament Book of James. Around twenty-five guys are involved and there has been some great conversation.
Yesterday evening the Wednesday group talked about James 1:19-27. It’s one of those passages where each single verse could anchor its own post and easily inform the entire evening’s discussion.
It’s verse 22 that’s on my mind this morning. Not only from the Bible study but because it comments so powerfully on three of four other situations that are on my heart. “You can say anything you like, but after a while your words mean nothing if you don’t follow through” (author paraphrase).
Jesus made this point time and again:
- “If you love me, keep my commands…” – John 14:15
- “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter.” – Matthew 7:21
- A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.” – John 21:17
Paul emphasized the same idea when he wrote, “For when we place our faith in Christ Jesus, there is no benefit in being circumcised or being uncircumcised. What is important is faith expressing itself in love” (Galatians 5:6). In other words, You can pay lip service to religion all you want, but what Jesus calls for is love that makes a difference.
If you love then it should change you!
It is so easy to go to church and say we are people of faith, but what if we remain mean-spirited in our political conversations, and dismissive of other people’s ideas, and rude to everyone from the cashier at the store to other drivers on the highway?
Or how about telling our spouse “You know I love you…” when your actions show something else? If you lie, and you cheat, and you are mean-spirited, and you are unwilling to back up your words with consistent change, then does “I love you” or “I’m a Christian” mean anything at all?
Yes, Jesus stands with arms open wide, offering grace and mercy to absolutely anyone who wants to come home; but at the same time the Lord is very clear as to what he expects. “If you love me then it’s going to show in the way you act!”
More specifically, if we love Jesus then it’s going to show in the way that we treat others – especially the people we say we love! Not, “You have to follow these religious rules to be saved,” but that Jesus points out the obvious: “If you really have been reconciled to God then it is absolutely going to show.”
Or as the bridegroom said in the parable: “Later the others came back and said, ‘Sir, sir, [Lord, lord] open the door to let us in.’ But the bridegroom answered, ‘I tell you the truth, I don’t know you'” (Mathew 25:11-13).
“Seriously, people,” Jesus will say, “I’m telling the truth, I have no idea even who you are…”
Just read the Book of James. I dare you – DEREK