Seeing things as they really are
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 1:25
16 So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters.
17 Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.
19 Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.
20 Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.
21 So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls.
22 But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.
23 For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror.
24 You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like.
25 But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.
What does it mean to see things as they really are? The answers are varied. In deriving a definition from real-world examples, Peter F. Drucker, a well-known and very perceptive observer of American trends and culture asked a poignant question.
What did Harry Truman, the 33rd U.S. President, have in common with Jack Welch, the former president of General Electric? Drucker’s answer, “They share a rare commodity – intellectual integrity.” And what is intellectual integrity? Drucker explains, “I mean it as the ability to see the world as it is, not as you want it to be.”
“His point is that Welch and Truman both tackled their jobs in the same spirit of objectivity. ‘They both understood executives are not their own masters. They are servants of the organization – whether elected or appointed, whether the organization is a government, a government agency, a business, a hospital, or a diocese. It’s their duty to subordinate their likes, wishes, preferences to the welfare of the institution’” (Forbes).
How does one live out intellectual integrity as a leader of an organization or institution? A good leader determines the foremost need to be addressed. Meeting that need becomes their primary task and duty. The leader does not allow their ego to drive decision-making. Drucker comments, “Truman knew this – and acted on it; and that made him a great President.”
Both Churchill and Stalin outclassed Truman. He had little experience in international affairs. He needed to learn and learn at warp speed. He spent time with General George Marshall and Undersecretary of State Dean Acheson daily. Truman recognized his limitations and had the personal character and courage to admit he needed help.
The Father has provided a way for us to see things as they really are. The Word of God discloses what each child of the King is really like on the inside. We look into the Bible; it reveals our innermost being, heart, spirit, and soul. The Bible exposes our character, attitudes, and motivations. We are laid bare from the inside out.
James equates the Scriptures to a mirror. When we look in the mirror, we can see our exterior to determine how we look. If anything needs to be fixed up, straightened out, etc., we can take the necessary actions.
“The main purpose for owning a mirror, is to be able to see yourself and make yourself look as clean and neat as possible. As we look into the mirror of God’s Word, we see ourselves as we really are” (Wiersbe).
Remarkably, he has provided a way for every child of the King to see themselves as they really are. We are allowed to see ourselves from Father’s perspective. Ultimately, the Father’s perspective is the only point of view that matters. When we are right before Him, we are indeed right. None of us will ever measure up totally in this life because of our fallen DNA. However, He has provided a way for us to see things as they really are. Real reality is understood and measured according to His standards of righteousness, holiness, goodness, and truth.
When we see things as they really are in light of the word of God, remarkable things happen. James spells out a contrast is between a forgetful hearer and an effectual doer (James 1:25).
REFLECT & PRAY
In the same way, that a mirror reflects our physical image, the Scriptures reveal our innermost being.
Father allow me to see reality as it really is, seen in the reflection of Your law. Enable me to be an active doer rather than a passive hearer.
What is the difference between a forgetful hearer and an effectual doer? A hearer forgets, and a doer acts (Moo). An effectual doer is a true hearer. A true hearer hears and practices the Word. In practice, how does this occur?
A true hearer looks intently and carefully at the perfect law.
The Greek word translated as looks intently or looks carefully is parakupto. Parakupto meansto stoop sideways, to stoop to look. Parakupto “is the word used to describe John’s act of stooping and peering into the tomb of Jesus (John 20:5). Here in James 1:25, it is as though a person stoops over the Scripture, zealously searching for its message” (Burdick). It connotes penetrating absorption (TDNT).
James 1:25 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, will be blessed in his doing.
The perfect law of liberty is the spiritual “mirror” provided by the Father for the children of the King. The perfect law of liberty focuses on the principles that the Father wants us to practice.
James is opting for a whole new way of living. He suggests that we can combine the perfect law of liberty with a life of joyful obedience through the freedom and power of the Holy Spirit. As we do this, we are set free from the shackles of the past and encouraged and strengthened by the Father. We experience something which is often totally new, joyful spiritual obedience. Doing the right thing is no longer drudgery but rather a source of pleasure.
Psalms 119:18 Open my eyes to see the wonderful truths in your instructions.
“It is not enough to hear the Word; we must do it. Many people have the mistaken idea that hearing a good sermon or Bible study is what makes them grow and get God’s blessing. It is not the hearing but the doing that brings the blessing. Too many Christians mark their Bibles, but their Bibles never mark them! If you think you are spiritual because you hear the Word, then you are only kidding yourself” (Wiersbe).
“Our culture tends to consider people ‘spiritual’ merely if they have an interest in spiritual things. That is not the biblical perspective. Only those who hear God’s voice and obey it are spiritual” (Stanley).
© Dr. H 2022