Do What I Say, Not What I Do
"Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says."James 1:22
We have ALL probably in our lifetime heard that phrase. I know that there were many times growing up that when I would question my parents they would say, "Do what I say, not what I do." That would always confuse me. I would always ask myself why do they get a pass on what they are doing. Why do I have to be better than my parents and not make bad decisions or make mistakes. And it really took me a long time to finally live into those words. I will tell you, I have NOT used that phrase to this day to my children, but I know that I have probably thought about it a lot. When I now look back and see the reason my parents would say that I understand that they were trying their best to provide and do all that they could do to make for me a better opportunity to succeed. Their desire was that both me and my brother would understand the reality of personal sacrifice for others. Even if sometimes we have to do things that, in our mindset, are not as honorable, we are still doing all that we can to provide opportunities for the next generation to succeed.
I also remember growing up watching Michael Jordan play basketball. I remember seeing him first play for the University of North Carolina and then for the Chicago Bulls. During my time growing up, he was truly the GOAT (Greatest of All Time). He was able to change the way that others looked and thought about pushing yourself to be an athlete. He set a standard that everyone, boys and girls, wanted to emulate. From his unbelievable dunks, to wanting to buy his shoes, to literally living out the last seconds of imaginary games of basketball in the driveway. Jordan was a household name around the world. So much so that NIKE came out with a brand new slogan, JUST DO IT. It was a marketing campaign that called for anyone who wanted to "BE LIKE MIKE" (Gatorade) must understand that all goals are fully attainable if you just put your heart, mind and soul into it. The whole world fell in love with Michael "AIR" Jordan, and we were able to see a generation that was affected by his being MJ.
I would love to say that NIKE and GATORADE came up with this idea from out of the air, but in reality they did not. It comes from the words we see today in James 1:22. As James is continuing to help others to understand the importance of taking a stand for Christ and not putting off today the opportunity to spread the Gospel til tomorrow, James utters our words today. It is a challenge that has been going on longer than any of the ones we see today.
This was truly a challenge that every single Christian should live into with every breath that they take. Hear the words again, "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourself. DO WHAT IT SAYS." Does that sound familiar. As James is writing these words, he is saying, look you can easily go to church, walk into the worship service, Sunday school or bible study and just listen to what is being said without EVER opening your BIBLE. You can go in thinking that you have it all figured out, but in reality you are truly deceiving yourself. There is something about reading together the WORD of God instead of being spoon fed. See my parents made sure that I had a Bible and I used my Bible. They made sure that I knew where all of the BOOKS of the Bible were in case I had a desire to open it for myself and not have to take time looking for the section I needed. There was not a digital version, and don't get me wrong I understand the technology today, but there is something that is telling when we have youth and adults who cannot find certain Books of the Bible because we have failed to make it an important part of our lives. When we continue to remove the personal contact of digging into God's Word and ONLY relying on someone else's interpretation, we are deceiving ourselves and failing to give ourselves a chance to allow GOD to speak directly to us. SO I say JUST DO IT! Start with something easy, but don't neglect digging into the WORD that is a roadmap to our final destinations.
James then makes his challenge to ALL people who desire to follow Christ. DO WHAT IT SAYS!! That is tough. As we have talked in previous lessons, we are so inundated with the world's interpretation of things that sometimes we are unable to see the TRUTH for what it is. Even though my parents intended for those words to challenge me to live a different life than they had growing up, I didn't want to miss out on the struggle, the hard work, the desire to grow and the ability to realize that some days the ONLY thing I can depend on is GOD. That is what made so many past generations great and has caused this generation to even question if God or Jesus even matters at all. That is where we are today. Even though my parents' said DO AS I SAY and NOT AS I DO, Jesus refuted that statement and said Deny Yourself, Take up YOUR Cross and FOLLOW ME. In other words, Jesus changed the concept to be Do as I say AND do as I do. To Love God and Love People. To dig down deep and build a solid foundation so that when the storms come our houses are built on the solid foundation of the ROCK of Jesus and not of the SAND in this world.
It is not easy to be DOERS of the WORD. It means that we have to find a way to push out all of the noise of the world and step into the AUTHORITY of Christ in our lives. It means that there will be days that we just have to do it, regardless of the circumstance and realize that we serve a GOD that is bigger than our situation. Some days we may just have to step back and realize that GOD has got this and no matter how much I try to do, it has to run its course so that GOD can get the glory. It's not easy to shut out the world and try our best to hear
only the voice of GOD. It is a process called discernment. It is a long and difficult process because sometimes we have to have a DO AS WE SAY and NOT AS WE DO mentality. Yes, people have seen us at our best and at our worst, but to truly allow them the freedom to seek discernment from God, we may have to admit that we have been doing it the wrong way for a long time. We may have to admit that we have to change our ways and follow HIS ways in order for the TRUTH to truly be seen. As we celebrate the MAUNDAY THURSDAY, may we take hold of a SAVIOR that was willing to DO WHAT HE SAID and SAYS HE IS GOING TO DO!! Shouldn't we do the same.