“But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the Word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if 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.” James 1:22-25
Time flies. It seems like only yesterday, tiptoeing out of the nursery after a difficult evening trying to get the child to rest. Not our child, but a grandchild, and that was ten years ago. The years have accelerated, and time seems to be clicking along at a much faster pace, whether we like it or not. One of our grandchildren enjoys illustrating his drawings in a small book, then quickly flipping the pages, celebrating the animated figures telling the story. We called these flipbooks, and it is wonderful to see him giggle and laugh as the characters in his drawings move through their story.
As a young person, time was moving in slow motion as I yearned to be an adult. Now, I feel like a character in one of my grandson’s books, watching myself rapidly moving from one page of my story to the next. There are times I want to place my thumb on the page and slow things down and enjoy the moment; the good times. Of course, there are times when you would like to redraw the picture, and take the character in a different direction, but that’s just part of life. We probably all would like at least one do-over.
Watching my own children grow, triumphantly taking their first steps, then toddling around their domain in search of new adventures, looks different now. The perspective has changed because they are all grown up. They have matured and have children of their own. As the pages of their lives start to accelerate, hopefully they will build on the foundation established within the family of their youth.
As Christians, the images we portray to others through our lives, should be maturing and moving closer to the Lord. Thankfully, God has provided the Word which offers answers to all of life’s most challenging questions. All we need do is read it and listen for His answers. Also, surprisingly, many choose to face these difficult life challenges without benefit of His Word.
From my experience we all fall into one of these three categories. My Bible sits on the living room coffee table as a decoration. I believe it is important, but I am much too busy to read it. The next person reads their Bible when times are hard, or when they go to church. They know it is beneficial but are haphazard with their focus. Finally, there is the dedicated Bible reader. They read and study the Word daily. The Bible blesses their heart and the hearts of those they see each day. Missing a day, they feel discombobulated. Ask yourself, which would best describe your habits?
Consider this truth, satan knows the Word of God probably as well or better than most Christians. Because of his selfish pride he turned away from God, and the Word, and he is intent on taking down the world. Satan doesn’t try to convince people the Bible is not true, he uses the Word of God against people, distorting the truth and inserting doubt whenever possible. Remember how he tempted Jesus in the wilderness.
“If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the scriptures say,
‘He will order his angels to protect you. And they will hold you up with their hands, so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.’ Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the Lord your God.”
Next the devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. “I will give it all to you,” he said, “if you will kneel down and worship me.”
“Get out of here satan,” Jesus told him. “For the Scriptures say, you must worship the Lord your God and serve only Him.” Matthew 4:6-10 (NLT)
So, how would you handle an attack? Instead of being in the wilderness you are facing the slings and arrows of a culturally selfish, God deprived world. The devil knows you find these changes frustrating, insulting to your traditions and faith. He wants you to fight fire with fire, cursing your fellow man and those with whom you disagree. If you are growing in the Word, you face these challenges with scripture. You answer conflict with patience, love and discipline. Remember, satan never fights fair, he waits until you are in a weakened condition and attacks. We must recognize our enemy and we must be prepared!
Growing into the world is much like the flipbooks of my youth, with subtle changes over time. The illustrations change very little but take the character to a totally different place. Thankfully our book is incomplete, and changes can be made. Make the Word an integral part of who you are and how you live your life.
Ultimately, we must all answer this question, am I growing in the WORD or into the world?