Several years ago I was challenged to teach an adult Sunday School class. I wanted no part of it! I finally agreed to fill in when the “real” teacher was not able to be there, but that was all I was willing to do. Then I filled in for an extended period of time, and before I knew it I was hooked. It wasn’t so much that I wanted to teach as I was loving the opportunity I was given to read and study God’s Word. When it came time to give it back to the other guy I decided to keep going because I loved having the chance to sit and talk about what God was telling me.
I picked up an old Swindoll study called “Hands-On Christianity” and decided that we would go through this study. I remember being absolutely floored by the practical truth in the book of James. It is a book that I can read over and over again and be challenged each time. I think it was a pivotal study for myself, and I know for a cousin of mine as well. As we have gone on, we each are still drawn back to the pages of James because of the truth that speaks to our hearts. I welcome the pain of the changes it brings in me as it cuts to the marrow in an effort to remove the things that hinder my relationship with God. My cousin periodically “shouts” on Facebook that she thought she ripped that book out of her Bible, but there it is again!
Today I read this verse in my quiet time. The devotional that followed talked about James as a spiritual drill instructor. I thought that was an amazing picture of how James addresses some of the topics in his letter to the church. He gives them direction that is clear and easy to process. The guy did not use a lot of flowery language in how he spoke. James 1:22 has stuck with me, but with more of a modern selection of words.
“If you are going to just listen to the things that you are taught from God’s Word without doing anything with it then you are just fooling yourself.”
A drill instructor is not there to coddle or to make you feel good about yourself. The job of a drill instructor is to tear you down and to build you back up to fit an ideal. Anything you bring that is less than that ideal needs to be taken away. If that instructor allows you to believe that reading about running 5 miles in full gear is the same as doing it, then he is allowing you to fool yourself. That is not how they do things. They tell you what to do and then they tell you to show them. If you get it wrong then you are given an opportunity to do it again! The process will only stop if you quit or you graduate!
So that is where I am in life right now. I read God’s Word and I personalize it to my life to build up the good stuff and to tear out the bad stuff. When I understand what the Word says then it is time to DO IT! James is reminding me that if I sit there and feel all happy about how what I have learned has made me a good Christian, then I am just kidding myself. Then I hear him say, “You heard it, now DO IT!”
I will never be a perfect Christian, but I can be a good soldier by never giving up; pushing forward in doing the things that I have been taught to do. God has brought several drill instructors into my life that are not content to let me sit on my knowledge, but push me to act. Not to act for the sake of action, but in a purposeful way that will bring honor and glory to God. I have, and will continue to make mistakes, but I will not quit trying. One day I will graduate and I will then stand before my Savior. I’m looking forward to hearing Him say, “At ease, Soldier. Well done!”