Today’s passage is sort of an expansion and continuation of yesterday’s reading, but it has some further points we need to consider.
Remember the main point from yesterday? When it comes to God’s word, you need to be quick to listen and slow to become angry when it corrects you. That leads us to today.
How many times a week do you hear/read God’s word? I try to read the Bible every day, and we also try to pick a new devotional every year to read together, such as Morning and Evening or My Utmost For His Highest. We hear at least one sermon from our pastor on Sunday mornings, and I share teaching responsibilities with one other in our “Connection” class (what we call our Sunday School). I read his word and hear it taught/preached several times a week.
That’s so important. I know that there are lots of bad and false teachers/preachers out there, but there are plenty of really good ones: Alistair Begg, John Piper, John MacArthur, just to name some of my favorites. There are plenty of good authors out there who’ve made it their life purpose to be biblically faithful and to lead you into a closer relationship with your Savior.
So the issue isn’t dearth of material. The problem certainly isn’t ease of access either. I myself have an app on my smartphone which holds dozens of Bible translations, and you can get great teaching for next to nothing on the internet.
So how much of an impact has it had? Am I improving? Well, I’m going to follow the example of Paul and let my Lord be the judge of that. But by his grace I make a sincere effort.
That’s what today’s verses are addressing. How often have I sat in church, listened to a great sermon, took notes, and then ignored it as far as my daily life is concerned?
My friend, this is extremely dangerous. If you listen to a sermon or read God’s word on your own and then don’t do what it says, hear what the Lord Jesus says to you: “The servant who knows the master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what the master wants will be beaten with many blows. But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” In other words, if you hear or read his word, he holds you accountable for what you know.
If you just hear the word and don’t do what it says, you’re deceiving yourself. How so? Because you think that when the word is condemning certain types of behavior, it doesn’t apply to you for some reason. You hear a sermon about greed or gossiping or lust, and you think “Boy, I sure wish X was here so he could hear this.” You’re fooling yourself. It applies to you.
When I was growing up, one of my favorite TV shows was “Happy Days.” One of the main characters on that show was “The Fonz.” You remember him? He was the coolest guy on the planet, all the girls flocked to him at a snap of his fingers (literally), and all the other guys wanted to be like him. One of his endearing habits was going to a mirror in the bathroom, pulling out his comb, starting to comb his hair, then pausing for a moment and saying “Ayyyy,” grinning at himself, and putting his comb back into his pocket before walking away from the mirror. In other words, he saw himself in the mirror, was about to comb his hair, and realized that his physical perfection needed no correction or adjustment.
That’s who I think of when I read this passage. The word is a perfect mirror, and when we read it or hear it God the Holy Spirit is holding it up in front of us. We can either glance at it and walk away, or we can let it our gaze linger on it—or more accurately, we can let its gaze linger on us.
Please note the blessing pronounced here. When we look intensely into God’s mirror, letting the Spirit use it like a surgeon’s scalpel on our hearts, letting it change us, we’re blessed in whatever we do. His smile will be on us.
Do you want his smile? Then when you’re reading or hearing his word, pay attention. Ask his Spirit to point out how this applies to you. Don’t take a quick glance and walk away. Stay a while.
Father God, your word is pretty blunt at times. What I see in the mirror isn’t pretty very often. But that’s your tool to make me look like your Son. Help me to linger and let it do its work. By your grace, please change me.
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