The Difference Between Trophies and Treasures – James 1:22

Obedience Is The Key To Victory

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.

Trophy or Treasure

When is a treasure a trophy?  When it no longer has any real, useful value.  Treasures have value because they are desirable AND useful.  Trophies are a symbol of some level of achievement.  And while some trophies do have value, they are usually placed on a shelf or some other public or private area of display where people can only observe them.  They are rarely used because their primary purpose is to be observed, not used.

In the Information Technology field, there are people who are called “badge collectors”.  These are people who go out and get trained in some specialized aspect of the use of technology.  These people read books and take the tests necessary to obtain certifications from respected accreditation firms to show that they know and understand how to use particular aspects of technology.

However, they do absolutely nothing with it.  As a result, their skills in these fields atrophy, and are pretty much worthless in the real word.  They usually obtain these “paper certifications” to look impressive, or to obtain jobs in fields where accreditation is highly respected and sought after.  But these people only look good on the outside; their skills are far from complete, and lack depth in both knowledge and capability that only comes from using the skills in the real world.  And although these people are able to pass the tests, the resulting certification is not even worth the paper that it is printed on.

When we read the word of God – perhaps even study and memorize the word of God – and do nothing with it, it is like a trophy that sits on a shelf.  It looks pretty, and may bring back memories that result in emotional satisfaction, yet do no real good in our lives because it just sits there.  A person can purchase a Ferrari and put it in a warehouse where it is maintained and people can look at it, wishing that they owned one.  However, merely owning one without ever driving it relegates that very beautiful, expensive, and useful tool of transportation into trophy status.

The Bible says that the word of God is alive:

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

God fully intends for us to use the word of God in our lives to be a transformative force that molds us into who God wants us to be – a new creation in Christ.  Romans 12:1-2 states:

1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.

There are atheists in the world right now that have memorized the word of God and can recite it perfectly, yet have not been touched or altered by it.  For them, it is used as a reference tool to attempt to refute the positions and understanding of those who actually believe that the word of God is the truth and put it into action.  Photographic memory and retention of what is read, seen, or heard, is no substitute for the active implementation of knowledge into action, which then provides wisdom.  Knowledge without the ability or desire to use it creates hubris rather than skill or ability.  Knowing the value of Pi to the billionth digit is interesting but useless unless it is used in some way with math and science.

When we listen to the word of God and don’t apply it in our lives, we deceive ourselves into believing that we have accomplished something great, when in fact nothing has been accomplished.  We become deceived because the tool has not been allowed to do what it was intended to do with the raw materials (in this case our minds) – turning something that is raw and unfinished into something that is beautiful and useful.

The wise person that actually does what it says reaps a bounty of righteousness through the process of sanctification.  The word of God purifies us by exposing that which is dross through the repeated application of trials so that the impurities within us are brought to the surface and removed, leaving that which is beautiful and preparing it to be useful.

Raw iron ore looks like, and is about as useful as, the rocks that they are until it is melted down, and the impurities are removed.  It is not very valuable because the metal does not possess the qualities and characteristics that allow it to be changed into malleable alloys and shapes that ARE useful until it is purified.  God specializes in taking the rock ores that are our lives and, through sanctification brought on by trials, removes the impurities and allows us to be molded into shapes that are useful to Him.

Each of us has a choice to allow God’s word to be effective in our lives.  The ones that do what it says (obedience) are the ones that show that they love God.  And when we are obedient, God makes His home in us and prepares us for the return of the Son of God, Jesus Christ, to His rightful place of rule as King of kings and Lord of lords.

Trophy or treasure – the choice is yours.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Is the word of God a trophy or a treasure in my life?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have shown us through Your word that obedience to Your word shows that we love You.  You have already shown through the crucifixion of Your Son, Jesus Christ, for our sins that You love us.  Help me to be transformed and molded into the shape that is most useful to You, Lord God.  Remove the dross in my life that is preventing me from being transformed and purify me of all impurity.  Help me to show You that I love You through obedience to Your word.  Help me to ensure that Your word is a treasure to me, and not a trophy.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

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