My Musings – “People primarily respond not to what we do but how we’re being. It’s not that we do the wrong thing necessarily, but that we do what we do – maybe even if it is the ‘right’ thing – the wrong way.” (Leadership and Self-Deception, The Arbinger Institute).
My great fear for the Church today is that a lot of us spend a lot of time and energy “doing” Christianity, while failing to “be” Christ-like. We pride ourselves with saying, supporting and doing the right things (the modern-day equivalent of a tenth of our mint, dill and cumin), but neglect to be those things (the all-time equivalent of, “justice, mercy and sacrifice“). In the process, we are well on our way to alienating an entire generation from “the Way, the Truth and the Life.” Given the appropriate “salt and light” there are many who would love to “be” like Christ, but are afraid of “doing” like “Christians.” But unfortunately, the “salt” in many of us leaves a bad taste, and the “light” shining from us artificial and not a true reflection of its Source.
My Advice – There is nothing wrong with saying, supporting and doing the right things. But we must practice these without neglecting “justice, mercy and sacrifice.” Otherwise, we are merely a “resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” Distracting noise and “fake news” in a world searching for the truth. Woe to us, the elephant in the room that no one wants to acknowledge.
Don’t just do, be. People still might not acknowledge the truth, but what they are rejecting will be plain.
My Musings – Verses eight and nine are very well known. Memorized by many. It is these two verses that many say are at odds with James’ admonition that faith without works are dead. Funny how we sometimes see and hear what we want to and gloss over the rest. Verse ten makes Paul’s thoughts complete. You see, Paul and James are not at odds. James goes on to say that his faith is demonstrated by deeds. Paul is essentially saying the same thing. We are saved by faith (not by works), but a faith that does not cause us to do “good deeds” is a questionable faith in deed. Said another way: Salvation is not the result of good works, but our salvation should result in good works. Faith is the cause, good deeds are the effect.
My Advice – Be a good workmanship, just make sure it stems from your salvation and is not an attempt to obtain salvation.
My Musings – Fear God? “The ‘fear of the Lord‘ is that attitude of reverence and awe that His people show to Him because they love Him and respect His power and His greatness.” (Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). Be Satisfied (p. 135). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books).
Keep His commandments? Not out of the fear, as we understand fear. But, as explained above, out of reverence, awe, and respect. Why wouldn’t we? Think of it this way. When we were little children, we obeyed our parents out of the fear we understand. Fear of the consequences if we did not. As we grew older and became adults we continued to do the things we were told when we were young, because we revere and respect them, and want to please them. We want to show our gratitude.
The duty of man? Not because it is compulsory, but because we are obliged (do as someone asks or desires in order to help or please them).
My Advice – Do your “duty.”
1 Corinthians 1:26-29 – Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. (NIV 1984)
My Musings – Not many were wise, influential, or of noble birth. Many were considered fools, weak and lowly. Yet God chose shepherd boys, fishermen, tax collectors, harlots and the least of their clan for some of His greatest tasks. His Son’s birth was less than noble, His profession was “blue collar” at first, then an itinerant preacher with no home or place to lay His head. He was so influential that they crucified Him, because they could not accept His wisdom.
We tend to think of the wise, influential and noble as the movers and the shakers. But God can use even the foolish, weak and lowly. Billy Graham perhaps led more people to the Lord than anyone else in all of history. We admire him for this, as we should. Yet just as important was the man who led Billy Graham to the Lord. One “man” influenced twelve “no accounts,” whose small hands moved the wheels of the world turning it upside down. The eyes of the great were on Rome. The eyes of the Greatest were on His Son and the ones He chose to carry out His task when He was gone.
“This quest may be attempted by the weak with as much hope as the strong. Yet such is oft the course of deeds that move the wheels of the world: small hands do them because they must, while the eyes of the great are elsewhere.” (The Council of Elrond, from The Lord of the Rings).
My Advice – Do not think because you are not the wisest person, or the most influential person or a person of noble birth that you cannot be used by God for wise, influential and noble tasks. It may seem little to you and little to others. But if it came from God it means a great deal. It may seem little more than the gentle puff caused by a butterfly’s wings here and now, but it just might be this “butterfly effect” that figuratively “moves the wheels of the world.” God may not call all of us to do great things, but He will call us to do essential things, that He Himself prepared in advance for us (just for us) to do. We are not called to be famous (although we might be), but we are called to be faithful. “Small hands do them because they must.”
2 John 8 – Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully. (NIV 1978)
My Musings – This is not talking about salvation. We did not work for it we received it as a gift. Thus, we cannot lose it. But since salvation, we have been doing good works that are building rewards for us in Heaven. These we can lose.
My Advice – Live a life that builds rewards, not one that loses them.
1 Peter 2:20-21 – If you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps. (NIV 1978)
My Musings – We have been called to do good and as a result we are likely to suffer for it. We need to endure the suffering in the same way that Christ did.
My Advice – Follow the example of Christ. This does not mean you have to seek suffering, but that you endure it when it comes. Also, do not avoid doing good merely to avoid suffering.
James 4:17 – Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins. (NIV 1978)
My Musings – It is not enough to avoid doing things we should not do. We must also not leave undone the things we know we should do.
My Advice – You will not always be called to solve all the ills around you. But where you know that God is calling you to action and it is within your power to take action (and it will be because God always equips the called) make sure you follow through. It may not be easy, but it will be rewarding.