|Vol. 14 No. 12 December 2012||
A common question posed to young men and women is, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Depending on their age, this question is usually used to initiate a conversation about the occupation they envision themselves pursuing in the future. In James 1:19-21, the writer encouraged Christians (“brethren,” 1:19) to listen (1:19) and receive (1:21) the “word of truth” (1:18), but in James 1:19-27 he reminded Christians that listening and receiving is not an end; there is more involved in being a “spiritual grownup.”
Almost everyone knows that “to be something” you must “do something,” but not everyone is willing to put forth the effort. It is not uncommon for a young person who aspires to become a doctor to shrivel at the thought of long hours in the library, countless tests and lengthy term papers. In no uncertain terms, they want to be a doctor, but they do not want to put forth the effort. Therefore, their aspirations will never become a reality. They may insist they will still become a doctor, but everyone knows they are deceiving themselves. James commanded Christians, “but be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only” (James 1:22). In other words, they were to be continuous doers (James 1:22-23, 25; 4:11; Acts 17:28; Romans 2:13) of the Word; it was to be their habitual occupation. In contrast, they should resist the temptation of being “hearers only.” The word translated “hearers” is found four times in the New Testament (James 1:22-23, 25; Romans 2:13) and is used in ancient writings of those who were regular attendees at lectures but who never became disciples. Like an aspiring doctor who refuses to exert any effort to achieve his goals, those who are “hearers only” of the Gospel deceive (“delude”) themselves into thinking they are in a right relationship with God. James likens those who are “hearers only” to a man who looks at himself in a mirror but “goeth” and “forgetteth.” The words do not resonate; he is simply auditing his Christianity.
James described the “doer of the word” in verse 25 with these words, “But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.” Both the “hearer only” and “doer” considered their appearance in the mirror. Presumably, they looked at their appearance in the same mirror, the perfect (2 Timothy 3:16-17) law (Galatians 6:2; 1 Corinthians 9:21) of liberty (Romans 8:2). The difference between the “hearer only” and the “doer” is their persistence in the Word. The hearer only “goeth” and “forgetteth” (James 1:24) while the doer “continueth” in the Word. The word translated “continueth” means to “remain,” and therefore, it moves him to be a “doer of the work.”
What do you want to be when the day of reckoning is at hand (2 Corinthians 5:10)? Do you want to be blessed in your deed (James 1:25)? If you do, it is going to take persistent action to achieve your goal (James 2:16-26). Those who think otherwise are deceiving themselves.
Listed in 1 Timothy 2:4 is God’s desire for all mankind: “Who would have all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.” The use of the word “truth” as Paul is instructed to write occurs in various forms throughout the epistles of the New Testament. In 1 Timothy alone note 2:7, 3:15, 4:3 and 6:5. In 2 Timothy notice 2:15 and 3:8 as key verses. In other letters, he wrote of the ‘truth of the gospel’ (Galatians 5:7), ‘obeying the truth’ (2 Corinthians 4:2), ‘refusing to love the truth’ (2 Thessalonians 2:10) and ‘wicked men who suppress the truth’ (Romans 1:18). Why the importance of the truth as it deals with application to any subject?
Is the importance written due to Jesus’s prayer for ‘our sanctification to be by the Father’s truth’; “thy word is truth” (John 17:17)? Can you think of any better reason for the truth to be emphasized?
When seekers desire for dreams, happenstance and feelings to guide their decision for the Lord, are they not avoiding the prayer of Jesus and His teaching? Do we not see the examples of Acts 2, 10 and 22 emphasize the acceptance of the truth as they obeyed the Gospel and received the remission of sins?
[God wants all mankind to be saved, but He forces no one. Only those who voluntarily obey the truth of the Gospel will ultimately be saved. “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9 NKJV). “…He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him” (Hebrews 5:9). “[I]n flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thessalonians 1:8). ~ Louis Rushmore, Editor]