22 "But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves."
James 1:22 (ESV)
I’ve always felt the term "front-runner" was one of the worst things a team could be called. It refers to a team that says the right things, has all the right gear and looks like a quality team, but when it comes down to the nitty gritty and things get tough, they wilt, and their true identity shows through.
You just can't be successful with a group like that, relying on the reputation of their school/team, doing the easy stuff but avoiding the hard work.
Not only did James warn against this problem, Paul also condemned the front-runner lifestyle he saw in some Jews living at the time (Romans 2:13). They knew their race was chosen by God long ago. They knew God's laws and had the outward appearance (circumcision) to prove it (Romans 2:25).
But they were not living or leading godly lives. Similarly, today we may rely on the fact that our family has faith, that we go to church every Sunday, that we attended Sunday school as kids, or that we know all the major Bible stories.
All of this is great, but it doesn't mean a rip if we aren't following through and doing what God commands.
God didn't and doesn't desire people like this (Matthew 9:13). We cannot be God's people by simply knowing the right things or looking the part; similarly, a team can't win the meaningful games by only passing the "look" test!
We must be people who know what is right and what is needed, AND act accordingly. We can’t denounce selfish pride on our team while still secretly seeking our own agenda above all. We can’t preach to others about loving your neighbor while we fail to serve and love our own roommates. God sees, honors and strengthens those who authentically seek Him (2 Chronicles 16:9)!
To be clear, our justification and righteousness before God is not earned through our ability to follow His laws; indeed, that is impossible (Romans 3:20). Only Jesus’ work on the cross accomplishes that (Romans 3:24). However, the life I live should display evidence of my faith in Jesus Christ and the work of His gift of the Holy Spirit in me.
Claiming a faith that doesn’t overflow into action could be considered an incomplete faith (James 2:22) or a dead faith (James 2:17).
Hearing is great and so is knowledge. Without them we don’t know what to do or how to live, but we must follow through, applying what we learn so our lives reflect the love, grace, mercy, forgiveness and joy we’ve received in Christ Jesus.
May our lives be saturated with actions and not merely good intentions.
Reflect: Am I limiting my faith to knowledge and Bible trivia answers? What steps can I take for my faith to come to life through my actions?