Luke 8:21 He replied, “My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.”
Considering how His family had received Him not long before this, this doesn’t seem too surprising a response. There is also the very real possibility they were coming to “put Him away,” thinking He had completely lost His mind. In any case, these specific words are a powerful confirmation of what James said. “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” The delicious irony in that is that James was one of the brothers who came to see Jesus in this particular incident! It is a testimony of God’s grace that after Jesus’ resurrection he did repent of his earlier skepticism about his older Brother, and became the leader of the Jerusalem Church after Peter went to Rome. Even apart from that, the most powerful element of this verse is Jesus’ specifying, “put it into practice.” We are very good at deceiving ourselves, thinking that just because we know Scripture we are close to God. Jesus’ criterion is much more demanding than that. He doesn’t insist we become theologians, with massive knowledge of all the “…ologies,” or even that we memorize huge chunks of the Bible. Neither of those things are bad, but they aren’t what Jesus is really seeking. He desires love, demonstrated in obedience. (John 14:15)
This has been an important part of my life for a long time now. It is why I so appreciate Wayne Cordeiro’s SOAP system of devotions, which I follow, because the A in that is Application. By the time I was five years old I was proclaiming my love for Jesus, and I was baptized at seven, but my obedience was spotty, to the point that I became a conceited hypocrite, as sure I was better than other Christians as any Pharisee in the Bible, when actually I was almost totally ignoring God in my daily living. I don’t really like to remember how I was back then, but I do need to be aware of how utterly helpless I am without the grace of God. As a pastor, I seek to bring others to the same understanding, but it can be slow going. I have great empathy with the story of the preacher who brought the same message three Sundays in a row, and when called on it, said, “I’ll go to another message when you start doing this one.” I think that would be counterproductive, but I certainly understand the impulse! I find that I keep repeating various themes in my messages, and I realize God is trying to get through the layers of lies that are keeping people from really receiving His truth. However, saying I’m repeating isn’t helpful! I need to remember God’s immense patience with me, and exercise some of that same patience with those under my care.
Father, thank You for this reminder. I do need frequent reminders, so help me not resent reminding the believers as well. Thank You for the Coaching conference I’m attending right now. Thank You for the awareness of how we are all Your children, members of Your family, just as this verse says. May Your will for today’s events be fulfilled precisely, building up each individual and each church represented, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!