The Gospel Standard
Have you ever taken the time to examine your life in light of God's precious word? Have you ever thought about using the Bible to accurately learn of your strengths and weaknesses? Jesus once set forth, "He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my sayings, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I spake, the same shall judge him in the last day" (Jn. 12:48). If those things written in the New Testament are going to judge us, then shouldn't we take time to use the Gospel as our life's standard?
James writes in 1:21 of his letter to the twelve tribes of the Dispersion, "Wherefore putting away all filthiness and overflowing of wickedness, receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls". There is a common tendency to quote this passage to everyone but ourselves. We need to understand that James wrote this to apply to individual Christians. Before we take this passage and others to those who are not in Christ, let's be sure we take it to ourselves. It is much too easy to let the scriptures apply to everybody on earth except ourselves. As a poet once wrote, "We need so often in this life this balancing set of scales, Thus seeing how much in us wins and how much in us fails; But before you judge another, just lay him on the shelf, It would be a splendid plan to take a walk around yourself". Only then does the standard of God do us good.
The apostle Paul was a great man of God; yet, he too had to take time for appraisal of self. That is what made him great! He was continually trying to make himself more like the Lord. "...I buffet my body, and bring it into bondage: lest by any means, after that I have preached to others, I myself should be rejected" (1 Cor. 9: 27). He kept himself enslaved to the Gospel. The literal meaning of buffet is to bruise. Maybe this explains why it seems that so many of us find it so difficult to study and apply the Word to our personal lives. Truth sometimes really hurts!
The Gospel is our spiritual blueprint. What contractor would glance at the plans only once or twice while constructing a house? There must be a continual check against straying from the standard. What good are plans that are seldom used?
Brethren, let's be careful. It is imperative that our spiritual blueprint is followed. After all, what good are the best-laid plans if they are not used? "For if any one is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a mirror: for he beholdeth himself and goeth away, and forthwith forgetteth what manner of man he was" (Jas. 1:23-24). The first application of a text must be to self. The wise man is the one who tries to use truth as the focal point for living. This truly means we must take time to study God's message. It also means we must apply it to our lives. "But he that looketh into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and so continueth, being not a hearer that forgetteth but a doer that worketh, this man shall be blessed in his doing" (Jas. 1: 25). Let's truly take time to use the Gospel as our standard!