Read James 1:22-25

“Man has always been his own most vexing problem.” This is how Reinhold Niebuhr begins his two-volume work, The Nature and Destiny of Man. Some would agree that this one sentence stands out as a contender for the prize of being the nine most important, accurate words written by a Christian theologian in the 20th century. With all our doctrinal issues settled centuries before, these newer words tell us about the challenge of faith in the 20th century and our own. Of course, James offers a timeless expression of this with his imagery of a man looking in the mirror and then forgetting what he looks like. But James, being Scripture, gives us more. The problem that “man” has with himself is an exact reflection of the problem he has with God. We forget and are vexed by ourselves because we forget and are vexed by God and His Word. We hear it – we hear God, in other words – and we don’t listen. This is the story of humanity. This is my story and yours. Basically, we don’t do what God says and we get in trouble. This trouble manifests in confusion about ourselves and everything else. Anthropology is the study of humanity. It is the junior partner to Theology, the study of God. Scripture makes us students of both. Only when we truly know ourselves and our problem can we then know (and abandon all else for) the fullness of God and His solution, Jesus Christ. Vexation stops with Christ. Applied to my small life and little day, it boils down to what I do. Will I be a doer of His Word today or not? What I believe comes alive only when I live it out, only when I obey Him. One of my favorite things about that the Holy Spirit is how He helps me want to obey God despite myself. What an ongoing gift, what a real comfort He is! He “un-vexes” us.

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