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Grounded

What does it mean for a child to be a doer of the word, not merely a hearer?

Grounded
  • Author: Lisa Pineira
  • Credits: Illustration by Mark Allen Miller
  • Published: May 27, 2010

One summer, I got grounded for going inside a friend’s house without telling my mother, who called and looked for me for more than an hour. The consequence: I had to stay in our house or yard for an entire week.

The first day I obeyed. The next day, after my parents went to work, I left the yard to play. I made sure to return home by lunchtime when my mother came to watch her favorite soap opera. After she left, I again took off, and I arrived at the house just before my parents returned.

As a child, if I had been asked if I was obedient, I would have said, “Yes.” But looking back at my actions, I often fell short. James 1:22 says we should be “doers of the word, not merely hearers.” I’ve seen that I can deceive myself by thinking I am obeying God, when in fact I’m not. Looking intently into the mirror of God’s Word has exposed pride that comes out in my thoughts, speech and actions. I judge, speak before I listen and want to call the shots rather than humble myself.

Yet I want to express my love for God by respecting Him and what He says. Am I going to act like I did as a kid and conform outwardly, yet do what I want instead? Or will I do what He says but kick and scream all the way? Either choice tries to usurp God and His ways. Either way hinders true community.

“The biblical teaching on submission focuses primarily on the spirit with which we view other people,” says Richard Foster in Celebration of Discipline. “ . . . The real issue is the spirit of consideration and deference we have when we are with others. In submission we are at last free to value other people.”

Submitting to God and others shows we value them. Perhaps if we set aside our childish ways and do what God says—inside and out—the world around us will see Him afresh.

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