I got a message from an old friend to call him and I put it off. You know why I put it off? Because I was guilty. I hadn’t talked to him in months. I had said that I would call his son who is suffering from COPD, but I hadn’t. I had no excuse. I was guilty of letting everything get in the way of my commitment to him and our friendship. I put off calling, because I was so embarrassed at my failure as a friend. My words belied my actions. What kind of person makes a promise and never keeps it? What kind of person calls another man a dear friend, and then forgets all about him? A false friend, a lousy friend, that’s who!
So after nearly two weeks, I called and he answered. And right after I heard him say, “Hello”, I launched into a sincere apology. I said something like, “I can’t even believe you’d want to talk to me after all this time. Please forgive me for not calling you and your son. I’m ashamed of myself and I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me.”
As I took a breath to continue my plea, he interrupted saying, “What are you talking about? After all we’ve been through, after all the years of the love and blessings we’ve enjoyed together…there is nothing that you could ever do to reduce my feelings for you. You are my beloved brother and that will never change!”
Have you ever known the kind of peace and motivation that comes from experiencing that kind of acceptance? It’s said that the depth of one’s reservoir of good will and mercy is directly related to one’s experience of it. And that is certainly true for my friend. At a time when I was beginning to wonder if most reservoirs had dried up, the Lord gave me that phone call and that clear demonstration that deep reservoirs of mercy still exist.
And James knows that in spades. This week we will begin in 1:23 and read through 2:7. Here James uses a metaphor that he will carry thematically throughout the balance of his letter. He talks about God’s Word as a mirror that shows us two things – our radical falleness and His infinite love and devotion to us. And just like my experience with my friend, it’s only the latter that can begin to have a radical effect on the former.
There’s so much in these few verses. I look forward to digging into them with you and then gathering around His table.
In preparation for Sunday’s message, “For Glory Sake”, you may wish to consider the following:
- Google “Man in the Mirror” by Michael Jackson and listen to the words.
- What’s the difference between the mirror Michael sings about and the one James writes about?
- How does James establish the identity of the mirror?
- What part of God’s words is James referring when he says in verse 24, “For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he looks like?”
- What’s the perfect law to which James refers in verse 25?
- What is it that’s being forgotten?
- How does James’ message here help us understand better the “mechanical” and the “organic” obedience Ken referred to last week?
- What is James’ purpose in citing the example of partiality in 2:1-7?
- Why does he refer to Jesus the way he does in verse 1?
- What’s at the root of all partiality?