Accept and Respond – Megan Flowers

“Believers can overcome the moral pollution by being consumed with the glory of Jesus.”

James 1:21-25

“21 put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. 22 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.”

Imagine yourself interviewing for your dream job. It’s perfect in every way: the most convenient hours, top-notch health benefits, a salary too big to fit on a single check, as much vacation time as you want, and it’s the career you’ve been working toward your whole life. I mean, this is THE job. 

Now, let’s say a week later, you get a call. The job is yours. 

You accept it. 

Fast forward a year later, still working, and what does life look like? 

Are you striving to be the best employee you can be? Do you wake up every morning thinking how you can do better than the day before? How many people do you go to for advice to grow the business? Do you often stop to evaluate how effective you really are, just so you can get a tiny bit closer to perfection?

Or are you at home in front of the tv? Going through your everyday routine, not caring. You wake up, maybe eat a sandwich, play some video games, lounge in your pajamas all day, grab a drink, spend 20 minutes on work then head off to bed, and plan to wake up and do the same thing tomorrow–all while expecting a hefty paycheck?

Which life are you living?

As Christians, it’s not enough for us to just accept the gospel. Don’t misunderstand me, if God has revealed the gospel to you and you accept it, that’s a miracle. A true, undeserved, generous miracle. 

But what now?

You’ve accepted the gospel, you believe in Christ, you proclaim that faith, and then???

Are you striving to be the best Christian you can be? Do you wake up every morning asking God for the strength to do better than the day before? How many pastors, mentors, teachers, and friends do you go to for advice on how to grow? Do you often stop to evaluate where your heart is? Do you actively ask God for your sanctification? 

OR

Are you sitting idly by, doing nothing? Are you “living life to the fullest” before you decide to settle down and become a “real Christian”? Do you actively choose sin over God because you’re already saved, so it’s not like God is going to take that salvation away from you? Would the world call you one of their own?

James 2:26, “For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.” 

You can’t accept Christ and His gospel without responding to it. Salvation isn’t just believing the gospel, it is acceptance followed by responses. 

The more you whole-heartedly read God’s word and learn of His truths and promises, the more your heart molds to His will. Your actions and decisions are real-time evidence of your acceptance of Christ. To love God is to accept His free gift of salvation and obey Him. 

If there is no obedience in your life, there’s an issue in your heart. You can sit in Sunday School every week, take notes during service, go to college group on Wednesday nights, volunteer in the nursery, serve on the cooking staff, start small groups with church family, go to bible school, spend a couple hours at BCM on Thursday nights, BUT if you are not reading and obeying God’s word, you are not responding to the Gospel which you have accepted. 

It’s stated so clearly in scripture, “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. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.” 

God’s word is like a mirror: it shows us our true condition. There’s no hiding who you are or what you’ve done. James shares that Christians are to be careful not to “deceive yourselves.” You can’t deceive God, so you might as well be honest with yourself. 

Yes, the world can be overwhelming at times. There is so much death, suffering, devastation, loss, and temptations in our world today. Sometimes I think I might fall so far, I won’t ever be able to come back. And, I’m right. I can’t come back from that on my own. There’s no way I would ever have enough restraint and strength to pull myself out of the pits of the world.

 I need God. 

I need His strength. I need His Word. I need to read His truths and promises. I cannot overcome anything apart from God. No one can. 

The good news is we have the solution: Christ! Turn to Him in faith for cleansing of those sins. 

You can’t start this process without first being honest with yourself about your sins. Look right into that mirror, acknowledge your sin, and through the power of God, turn away from it. Leave it behind.

Now that you’ve been honest, you must stop and take responsibility for your actions. Repent. Ask for forgiveness, and ask God for help in overcoming your temptations. Respond to His word. Wake up and go to work on becoming more like Christ. 

You’ll never be doing it alone. 

Christ wants you to succeed more than you do! He’s literally your biggest cheerleader. Not once will He turn you away.

God is always waiting with open arms for us. 

Take this opportunity to stop and evaluate your heart. Where are you with Christ? Are you hearing his word and doing something about it? Have you turned a blind eye to your sin? Do you reject God’s word because it casts a light on the temptation you don’t want to quit? 

Where are you with God? Have you accepted Him and walked away? Or are you going to respond to what He’s called you to do?

Accept Christ. Respond to His Word. 

What else could be more important today?

Adapted from “James: verse by verse” by Bible Study Fellowship.

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