But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it. (James 1:22-25 NLT)
During the days when our country was young, a frontier settlement known for its lumbering decided to build a church and call a pastor. They sawed the logs, built the building, and hired a young man to be their minister. For the first several months everything went great until one day the young pastor discovered some of his members stealing logs that belonged to another village. As the logs were being floated down the river, the men of the church would drag them on to the bank, saw off the ends removing the original owner’s markings, and then remark them with their own brand. The next Sunday the young pastor preached a message on “Thou Shalt Not Steal.” To his surprise, at the end of the message almost everyone, including the members who had been stealing the logs, praised him for delivering a great message. The pastor, still disturbed, prayed and decided to preach the same message the next week, only this time he entitled it, “Thou Shalt Not Saw Off the Ends of Thy Neighbor’s Logs.” At the end of the sermon he was once again met by many of the members, only this time it was not for praise, but to inform him that he was no longer needed.
The men of this village were happy with the sermons as long as they did not pertain to any of them. But once the pastor’s messages began to point out the sin in their lives, they became angry. They were as James says – content to ‘hear’ to the Word, but resistant to ‘do’ the Word.
None of us likes to have our toes stepped on, yet sometimes it is necessary if we are going to become the men and women God would have us to be. Consider what the book of Hebrews says about the purifying work of God’s Word –
“For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.” (Hebrews 4:12-13 NLT)
Thank you for taking the time to look into God’s Word each day. I pray that as I write these devotionals and you read them, together we will become the men and women God would have us to be.