No Pain, No Gain
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. —James 1:22-25
When exercising my body, the phrase “no pain, no gain” comes to mind. I remember when I was in boot camp hearing my drill instructor yell, “Get outta your racks you maggots! Pain is just weakness leaving the body!” We would jump out of our “racks” sleepy-eyed at 4:00 a.m. and commence a day filled with push-ups, running, swimming, and classroom work. It was because of the drill instructor’s constant pressure for me to push myself that I left boot camp in the best physical shape of my life,
The book of James is like a drill instructor. James is shouting, “No pain, no gain!” to you as you read what he has written. James moves from topic to topic swiftly, all in an effort to get you to exercise the faith you profess. He is telling you, “Don’t tell me what you know, show me!” In his pursuit of your growth he points out the danger of deceit and the antidote for deceit in the verse before us today.
Let’s start with the danger. Deceit is a real problem with all people, even believers (in this case all means all). Jeremiah reminds you that your heart is “desperately wicked” and “prone to deceit” (Jeremiah 17:9). Have you ever said, “What was I thinking?” This is because sin is deceitful and dangerous and if you toy around with it, you get burned. James wants to make sure you don’t profess to know Christ and live as if you don’t. He wants you to ask “How can I fight my natural, sinful inclination?”
This is where the antidote comes into place. “Don’t just hear the Word, but do the Word.” Seems simple. Seems obvious but we spend our lives pursuing this goal. This is a painful, lifelong goal James is encouraging you to pursue by shouting, “No pain, no gain!” or, “Get after it Christian!” He wants you not to merely tell Him what you know, but show Him what you know.
In our society where 85 percent of people profess to know Christ but many show no difference in behavior than their non-Christian neighbors, this message must be heard loud and clear. Christian, “work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12)! No pain, no gain!
- What areas has the Lord revealed where I need to grow?
- Look up Romans 2:13, James 2:14-20, Matthew 7:21, 24-27, and John 13:17. How would I say faith and works go together based on these verses?
Prayer: Father in heaven, help me to walk the walk and not just talk the talk. May I take Your Word seriously and work hard at practicing what I learn from it. May my life reflect Jesus Christ in a way that people will know I am His before I ever open my mouth. May I not do this for the applause of men, but that You would be pleased with how I use the life You have given to me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
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