“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”
(James 1:22 ESV)
Are there some things you hear but don’t really listen to?
The Dentist: “You need to floss daily…” (Yes, I have a dentist appointment coming up.)
You Wife: “Honey would you mind cleaning the dishes?”
The Doctor: “You need to exercise, lose some weight, and watch what you eat…”
We hear these thing so often, they don’t really sink in. They float through the room, tickling the ear, but we’re not really sure if she said “dishes” or “fishes,” but since fishing sounds so much better, we grab our pole and go.
The reality is, we know what’s being said, but we’ve convinced ourselves otherwise. Flossing, it’s overrated. Dishes, they’ll wait. Exercise, well, you only live once. That stuff may work for others, but we know better, at least as it concerns our own life. We know what’s best for ourselves, we don’t need to really do all that stuff. Right?
James cautions this approach to our lives, especially when it come to applying the Word of God to ourselves. I have heard so many times, “I get what the Bible says, but when it comes to my life, I’ve got to do what feels right and works best.” We hear the word, but we don’t do it. James says, if this is the case, we are deceiving ourselves.
The Bible is the Authoritative Word of God. It has the authority to speak words of teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness (2 Tim 3:16), not because some “churchy guys” who are long since dead said so, but because these words are the very Word of God, the author and giver of life. When the author of life tells us how to live, don’t you think you ought to do what He says?
We deceive ourselves in so many ways. We say we have no sin, and the truth is not in us. We say we are above temptation, but the Devil is prowling outside the door, waiting and watching for a moment of weakness. We convince ourselves that our efforts are good enough, that we can stand on our own two feet, when the truth is that our strength is the very strength of God, and His strength is made perfect in our weakness.
The worst thing I can do as a pastor, the worst thing the church can do in its ministry, is to encourage you to keep on deceiving yourselves with empty words (Eph 5:6). Instead, we are to speak the truth in love (Eph 4:15), so that we may build one another up as the body of Christ. As you read the Word in your personal time of worship and devotion, as you hear the Word read and proclaimed in corporate worship as the church, do not deceive yourselves, but let God’s Word guide you into all truth and righteousness.
Good stuff here once again Ethan. What especially challenged and encouraged me was your application for pastors, “The worst thing I can do as a pastor, the worst thing the church can do in its ministry, is to encourage you to keep on deceiving yourselves with empty words (Eph 5:6). Instead, we are to speak the truth in love (Eph 4:15), so that we may build one another up as the body of Christ.”
This is something I need to remind myself of every week, if not every day as a pastor. Thanks brother. Your people are blessed to have you proclaiming God’s very words to them in love every week.