When you hear the word “Bible” what do you think of?
Back when Jesus and his disciples were alive they didn’t call the Bible the “Bible.” The word “bible” means book. But back then they didn’t really have books like we do today. They had scrolls or just sheets of paper called papyrus that they wrote on. So when James describes the Bible to his readers he won’t all it the “Bible,” he’ll call it something else. Listen to these verses and see if you can hear what James calls the Bible.
James 1:22-25. 22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 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. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25 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.
The perfect law.
The law of liberty.
These are all James’ way of talking about the Bible.
One of the things James called the Bible was “the law of liberty.” But this is a strange title because a law is a set of rules and liberty means freedom, so it would seem like those two things don’t go together. How can a set of rules make us free? Isn’t freedom about not having any rules and doing whatever you want?
Real freedom and happiness comes when we let God guide our lives and tell us what to do. When God tells us to love others, and to be kind, and to share what we have, and to obey our parents, he’s not taking away our freedom, he’s actually giving us our freedom. The freedom to be all that God made us to be. If God told a fish to swim or a bird to fly he wouldn’t be taking away their freedom, he would be giving them their freedom because fish were made to swim and birds were made to fly. And we were made to love God and love others. We were made to worship God and serve others. So now God’s rules become our “law of liberty.”
But what if we don’t obey God’s rules? What if we mess up? Won’t we be in trouble?
Because of Jesus all of God’s rules have already been perfectly obeyed. Because Jesus was punished on the cross for our sins, we will never be punished by God for messing up. Now God’s rules can’t get us in trouble, they can only get us out of trouble. Now God’s laws can’t make us look bad, they can only help us to do good. When you are already free in Jesus, his laws can only make you freer and freer. When you are already loved by God no matter what, his rules can only help you love him more.
And now, like James says, we can use the Bible like a mirror. Why do people look in a mirror? To see what’s wrong and then fix it. And the Bible is the same thing for our hearts. God’s word tells us what is wrong and teaches us how to fix it. It shows us Jesus and shows us how to live like him. And because we are already loved perfectly by God and already perfectly free we aren’t afraid to see what we are doing wrong, we are excited to be more like Jesus.
Because of Jesus God’s law (the Bible) can’t make us guilty anymore.
With Jesus we can obey God’s law, loving him and others.
DO SOMETHING TOGETHER
Look in a mirror together. Have everyone say something that might need fixing (hair out of place, food in teeth, spot on clothes). Make sure everyone is nice to each other!
Talk about how the Bible is like a mirror that helps us to see Jesus and then know how to be like Jesus.
I want to be more like you. Help me to use your word, the law of liberty, to know you better and love you more.
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