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James 1:22

Service to Others

An unknown author captured eloquently the way in which we so religiously fall short of Christ’s demand of service for others:

I was hungry and you formed a humanities club and discussed my hunger.
I was imprisoned and you crept off quietly to your chapel and prayed for my release.
I was naked and in your mind you debated the morality of my appearance.
I was sick and you knelt and thanked God for your health.
I was homeless and you preached to me of the spiritual shelter of the love of God.
I was lonely and you left me alone to pray for me.
You seem so holy, so close to God.
But I’m still very hungry and lonely and cold.

We must hear again the words of James: “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only” (James 1:22).

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Knowledge Outdistances Practice

Many Christians have allowed their knowledge of the truth to outdistance their practice. They remind me of a story in Glad Tidings by James Kallam. He tells of a young book salesman who was assigned to a rural area. Seeing a former seated in a rocking chair on his front porch, the young man approached him with all the zeal of a newly trained salesman. “Sir,” he said, “I have here a book that will tell you how to farm 10 times better than you are doing it now.” The farmer continued to rock. After a few seconds he stopped, looked at the young fellow and said, “Son, I don’t need your book. I already know how to farm 10 times better than I’m doing it now.” - P.R.V.

Our Daily Bread, February 7

Substantial and Fruitful

“We must observe that the knowledge of God which we are invited to cultivate is not that which, resting satisfied with empty speculation, only flutters in the brain, but a knowledge which will prove substantial and fruitful whenever it is duly perceived and rooted in the heart.”

John Calvin

Titanic

1912 - Maiden voyage of Titanic. Received message from another ship of icebergs in area. Radio operator put message under a weight at his elbow and went on with his work. It never reached the captain, and 1500 lives were lost. Information without action can result in destruction.

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Serious-Minded Response

I’ve read that when Edward VI, the king of England in the 16th century, attended a worship service, he stood while the Word of God was read. He took notes during this time and later studied them with great care. Through the week he earnestly tried to apply them to his life. That’s the kind of serious-minded response to truth the apostle James calls for in today’s Scripture reading. A single revealed fact cherished in the heart and acted upon is more vital to our growth than a head filled with lofty ideas about God.

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Quote

One step forward in obedience is worth years of study about it.

Chambers, Our Daily Bread, March 4, 1993

Career Student

I read about a man in New York City who died at the age of 63 without ever having had a job. He spent his entire adult life in college. During those years he acquired so many academic degrees that they “looked like the alphabet” behind his name.

Why did this man spend his entire life in college? When he was a child, a wealthy relative died who had named him as a beneficiary in his will. It stated that he was to be given enough money to support him every year as long as he stayed in school. And it was to be discontinued when he had completed his education.

The man met the terms of the will, but by remaining in school indefinitely he turned a technicality into a steady income for life—something his benefactor never intended. Unfortunately, he spent thousands of hours listening to professors and reading books but never “doing.” He acquired more and more knowledge but didn’t put it into practice.

This reminds me of what James said: “Be doers of the Word, and not hearers only” (1:22). If we read the Bible or listen as it is taught but fail to put to work what we have learned, we are as bad as that man with his string of degrees. His education was of no practical benefit to anyone.

Hearing must be matched by doing. - R.W.D.

Our Daily Bread, July 19, 1992

Terrible Delusion

What a terrible delusion to be content with, to delight in hearing the word, and yet not do it. And how prevalent the sight of multitudes of Christians listening to the Word of God most regularly and earnestly, and yet not doing it! If a servant were to hear but not do, how quickly the judgment would be given. And yet, so complete is the delusion, that Christians never realize they are not living good Christian lives. Why are we deluded in this way? For one thing people mistake the pleasure they have in hearing the Word of God for Christianity and worship. The mind delights in having the truth presented clearly; the imagination is gratified by its illustration; the feelings are stirred by its application. To an active mind knowledge gives pleasure. A person may study some branch of science—say electricity—for the enjoyment the knowledge gives him, without the least intention of applying it practically. So people go to church, and enjoy the preaching, and yet do not do what God asks.

Andrew Murray

Quote

“The world does not need a definition of religion as much as it needs a demonstration.”

Martin Luther

D. L. Moody

While D. L. Moody was attending a convention in Indianapolis on mass evangelism, he asked his song leader Ira Sankey to meet him at 6 o’clock one evening at a certain street corner. When Sankey arrived, Mr. Moody asked him to stand on a box and sing. Once a crowd had gathered, Moody spoke briefly and then invited the people to follow him to the nearby convention hall. Soon the auditorium was filled with spiritually hungry people, and the great evangelist preached the gospel to them. Then the convention delegates began to arrive. Moody stopped preaching and said, “Now we must close, as the brethren of the convention wish to come and discuss the topic, ‘How to reach the masses.’“

Moody graphically illustrated the difference between talking about doing something and going out and doing it.

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