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Living out the message

“But be sure you live out the message and do not merely listen to it and so deceive yourselves. For if someone merely listens to the message and does not live it out, he is like someone who gazes at his own face in the mirror. For he gazes at himself, then goes out and immediately forgets what sort of person he was. But the one who peers into the perfect law of liberty and fixes his attention there and does not become a forgetful listener but one who lives it out, he will be blessed in what he does.” James 1:23-25

Merely listening to the message is not enough apparently. The living word is supposed to have an effect on the listener. Hear and be changed. Live it out. Because if you don’t live it you don’t believe it anyways James seems to say. The only faith that matters to James is one which translates into action.

So how do we live out our faith in a distracted culture which values gazing at our own reflection? Peering into the law however perfect or liberating it sounds seems nerdy and outdated. To the Jew though the concept of blessing tied to obedience was a familiar one. I might view the law as boring, tedious or even stale. Not the ancient believer though. Think Psalm 119, the longest song in the bible, basically an Ode of Joy to the law.

Perhaps we need to rethink our perception of law. I tend to associate law with rules and consequences, perhaps even punishment. It’s been a long time since I’ve received a speeding ticket but over a decade ago I somehow racked up three minor traffic violations in one week. Besides feeling like a moron and never telling my husband about the third I started feeling nervous when being followed by a police car. I still feel that way actually even though it’s been years. The law makes me nervous because of my tendency to break it.

The law holds positive connotations for James. Think freedom and blessings over punishment or embarrassment. At the core, the law is tied to justice which actually is a relevant concept in our culture. Liberty and justice for all is what the constitution promises yet the promise has fallen short. God’s perfect law however does not disappoint. So we’re encouraged to spend time there studying and absorbing his worldview. At the core, God’s perfect law is the law of love.

Love for the creator and love for others. Specifically love for outsiders and those on the margins of society. Our pastor was talking about the story where four friends bring a disabled man to Jesus and we spend a little time reflecting on the fact that he had friends who cared and surrounded him. Being lonely he said is such a common struggle among the disabled, especially the mildly intellectually impaired.

I started thinking about my brother in Germany who we adopted at age 3 after he’d spend his whole life in a hospital due to needing care for his Cystic Fibrosis. He is one of the sweetest people I know and also one that does not fit perfectly into mainstream society. Then I wondered if he was lonely and I realized I had never invited him to visit me. Hello. Invite your brother was my next thought and I wondered if he would even want to make this long trip.

I went home and googled flights and turns out there was a deal on direct flights from Frankfurt so I called him and asked if he wanted to come visit me if I bought his ticket. YES!!! He blurted out immediately as if he had been waiting his whole life for this sort of invitation. “Do you want a little time to think about it?” I offered. “Why?? I don’t have to think about that. I AM COMING!! Yippee.”

So he is coming to see us in May. He’s left a couple messages a day for me detailing his anticipatory excitement. It seriously makes my day. I don’t have tons of moments where I listen well and then act on what I hear. But I am making progress. I am suggesting I am awesome at living out the message. I am just sharing a bit of life with you.

Listen well and act boldly, my friends.


6 Replies

  1. Kathy Davis

    That is so special Astrid. Hope we get to meet him.

    1. Astrid Melton

      Yes. He is totally thrilled. He’ll be here for Stevens Birthday which might be a fun time to get together.

  2. Jill Swanson

    I’m wiping the tears away.

    1. Astrid Melton


  3. Emily

    I love that you listened and acted. His response was a great reward!

    1. Astrid Melton

      Totally. The rewards are ongoing with this one- what a gift

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