Next StepsHave you ever made a choice or taken an unwise risk that caused you pain?
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Don’t just listen to God’s Word. You must do what it says. Otherwise,
you are only fooling yourselves (1:22).
Walk into her house and a showcase living room
quickly commands your attention. Ornate,
expensive furniture populates rooms tastefully
embellished with understated artwork. A lavish floral
arrangement adorns a perfectly lit breakfast nook.
But no one ever sits on the furniture. The flower-shaped
soaps in the soap dish never clean anyone’s hands; the
towels in the kitchen and bathroom don’t dry anything.
Everything you see is for show. Soon enough, the host
ushers you to the basement. It’s not nearly as attractive,
but downstairs is where the actual living takes place.
Most of us maintain a similar façade in our lives.
When I’m angry with my wife or snap at my kids, but
then I answer the phone and my voice suddenly becomes
pleasant, I’m presenting to that caller only the upstairs of
my life. If I lead everyone to believe that my spiritual life
has only minor struggles, I’m not bringing the real me.
The apostle James warned about the self-deception
we’re so susceptible to: “Don’t just listen to God’s Word,”
he said. “You must do what it says” (James 1:22). Then
he pointed out some specific areas where we all fall
down. “If you claim to be religious but don’t control your
tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is
Next, he took additional aim at religion simply based
on appearances: “How can you claim to have faith in
our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over others?” he asked
(2:1). “Doesn’t this discrimination show that your judgments are guided by evil
An attractive house with two sets of living space is one thing. But a life that
hides reality from the world is of no use to anyone. True religion requires honesty
with ourselves, with each other, and with God.
Jesus had some extremely harsh words for the hypocritical religious
leaders of His day. Read Matthew 23:1 to see what He said to them.
What would happen if people could see how you really are? What do
you think others would look like if you could see them as they really are?
How does God view you?
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