I have always prided myself in being a genuine person. I have supported that notion of myself with the fact that I am a “simple” person. I do not love to shop. I am not one to love fine clothes or meals. I would not describe myself as extravagant in nature. I’m not one who does well with “small talk”. I considered myself to be honest about my shortcomings and somewhat humble. All of these traits have led me to align myself with the belief that I am a fairly authentic person. Until recently – when my study of James collided with a sermon that one of our teaching pastors preached.
The message was basically to determine how big is Jesus in our life. Leading up to this Sunday sermon, I had chosen to dig into the book of James with my discipleship group. I had chosen to study James because I thought God wanted me to really work on “taming my tongue”. Boy, was I wrong! He not only wanted me to tame my tongue, but He was about to expose me as fraudulent. The exact opposite of who I claim to be. The exact opposite of who I desired to be. Fake! You see, I can act as genuine as I want, while convincing myself of my authenticity, but if that authenticity doesn’t start and end with Jesus, it’s all fake.
God has given me a love for His Word. I love researching His Word. I love digging into His Word. I love teaching His Word. For these reasons, I decided to enroll in seminary school two years ago. What God revealed to me through this process is that I have too much head knowledge of His Word and not near enough heart knowledge. This is where my study of James entered into another recent revelation…..I can be a hearer of God’s Word all day long, but what am I going to do about it? Because, I don’t think God really cares how much I know about His Word if I don’t act like I truly know Him.
What is this knowledge of Him supposed to look like in a believer’s life? Loving others, showing mercy instead of judgment, and living my life as one who has been forgiven, redeemed, and adopted by the One True King! It dawned on me that as I drive to and from my seminary class on Tuesday nights, it is not uncommon for me to get verbally frustrated with the slow driver in front of me. Or before and after I study God’s Word in the mornings, it is not uncommon to hear me complain about the CHRISTIAN school my children attend or see me frustrated with the sweet cashier at Publix. Really?
Just how big is this Jesus that I am studying, researching and ultimately wanting to become more like! Am I making Him appear as the most important person in my life? Because after my realization, it sure feels like I am making Jesus appear very small. Even though I am in school to know more about Him. Even though I spend hours studying His Word every morning. Even though I take my Greek Bible to church on Sundays so I can more “authentically” (insert eye roll) follow along with the pastor. How big is my Jesus in my life?
Here’s what the Holy Spirit sweetly, but firmly revealed to me. God went to great lengths to make me His. He paid a price that we will never ever be able to fully grasp just to make me His own. Jesus taking my place on that cross didn’t only make me righteous and accepted by God, It stamps my adoption papers as a child of God! I am His, fully known and fully loved by my Father. This is the law of liberty that James speaks of. This is why I can speak and act as one who is judged under the law of freedom, because I have been bought with a price, and because I am genuinely accepted and loved by the only One that matters! Through the Holy Spirit, I am now free to show others how big and awesome Jesus Christ is by my words and by my actions! “Mercy triumphs over judgement.” Yes, I can still attend seminary school, but I need to remember whose I am so that I genuinely live the authentic life that I so desire. Yes, I can still lug my Greek Bible into church on Sunday mornings, but I need to remember WHO every one of those Greek words are about. If my life doesn’t reflect Jesus in the beginning, middle and end, I am a fake…no matter what language I can read my Bible in. The language of Jesus is love and that’s really all He desires me to speak!
“So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. For judgement is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgement.” James 2:12-13