Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Thursday, 3 October 19:
James 3:1, 13, 17-18 — Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness…. Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom…. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
There is an old Chinese proverb that says, “I hear, and I forget. I see, and I remember. I do, and I understand.” Talk is cheap, and actions speak louder than words, though words are still required. We certainly need to communicate the truth, but we also need to demonstrate the truth. We don’t really understand what we don’t practice. When your deeds don’t match your words, you bring discredit to God’s word. James goes as far to say that hypocritical teaching is “earthly, unspiritual, [and] demonic.” (James 3:15) What did Jesus say? “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.” (Matthew 7:15-20) James echoes Jesus’ words – “Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water. (James 3:11, 12) Jesus also said, “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak.” (Matthew 12:36) Careless words are not only rash or inappropriate words, they are also true words you couldn’t ‘care less’ to obey yourself.
We are called to “make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that [Jesus]commanded.” (Matthew 28:19-20) However, we must be very careful to teach and lead by example – “Set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” (1 Timothy 4:12)
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 3 October 19: Proclaim the truth in word and in deed to God’s glory. Don’t be a hypocrite (the Greek word for stage actor) while you serve and Christ’s ambassador.