The Mucky Stuff

Calling It For What It Is

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.
James 1: 22-25, ESV
Last fall I couldn’t even ride an elevator without the gravity pull forcing me to the floor. I would try to brace myself. I would wedge myself between a corner and hold tight to the handle. But every time those doors would close, the elevator would begin its assent and I would fall. Sometimes I wouldn’t even know it happened till I woke up in a hallway or office. Thank God for good Samaritans who didn’t leave me there. But as sick as I was, as obvious as my symptoms were, I just continued to repeat my mantra:

“I’m fine. It’s really not that bad.”

I didn’t even realize how sick I was. Do we ever? Do we ever stop and give credit to the things that disease us? Those things I call out in others but make excuses for in me? I could see the pain and struggle for others- my heart broke for them. But somehow I couldn’t exude that same grace to myself. Or maybe I just wasn’t ready to look into the mirror and admit what was really there. I led myself on. Maybe I knew I wasn’t in perfect health- but who really is?

And it is a carbon copy with our spiritual selves, if not more. C.S. Lewis says, “You don’t have a soul, you are a soul. You have a body.” How much of our soul do we ignore if it is that much easier to ignore this body we look at day to day?

Somehow in this christian philosophy we have passed down to our children we have created this sin hierarchy. We teach our children that losing our temper and hitting our sister is bad, but when daddy is driving and traffic is bad, its OK to yell-we are just venting after all.

Or how about murder? Murder is bad but that worry I hold on to, well that’s just a consequence of living in a high stress world, I can’t help that. And sleeping around, well shame on her! But somehow talking about her to all the other girls, well that’s just what she gets. Or maybe we even lie to ourselves and say we are merely thinking of ways  to help her. As if telling the community of her shame rather than talking to her is actually helpful.

I’ll tell you this. I’d much rather be friends with the person who struggles with sin, no matter how bad it may be, and recognizes his sin as sin and is seeking to change it, rather than the person who can’t even call it for what it is.

We just go on with our lives, repeating our mantra.

“I’m fine. Its not really that bad.”

Look into the mirror friends. See it for what it is. We are not fine. We are sinful. We are diseased. And we let those elevators knock us to the ground every day and don’t even see it as a problem. We are called to be doers of the word. Not hearers only. We are deceiving ourselves. Listening to those sermon podcasts isn’t going to do it if we can’t change our actions. What is the point of having wisdom if we can’t be wise enough to use it? We don’t know how sick we are. But take heart, there is hope. There is always hope when Jesus is involved. Because the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

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