Metronome — a device that marks exact time by a regularly repeated tick.
Sounds harmless enough, right? Well, not to me! I can be seated at the piano, happy as can be, playing an arrangement with a sense of accomplishment; but once I flip the switch on that troublesome ticker, reality rushes in, and I’m faced with the harsh realization that I am not “all that” at the keyboard! That is when the squirm factor enters in and the pride factor falls to the floor.
The musician must move through the piece exactly as it is written, without hesitation, in order for the composer’s message to be authentic and to hit the heart of the listener. Hey! So what if I march to the beat of a different drum??? A little pause here … a little pause there. That can’t be too serious, now can it?
Then reason moves in and pushes rationalization out the door with this stern warning: You need to buckle down and make this happen the right way. And so I push through — using every last ounce of concentration I can muster to stay in step with that perky, pesky pendulum.
Such is the Letter of James.
In fact, James is to the Christian as the metronome is to the musician.
Analogies speak volumes, don’t they?
James, the Lord’s half brother, does not “play” half-heartedly! He demands that we walk the talk. He confronts, challenges, and calls us to action! Though he is absolutely a believer in grace, James is adamant that if we have been recipients of grace, we should show it by our words and behavior.
Remember in Pilgrim’s Progress how Christian has to concentrate on the lighted line on the floor as he moves forward? Frightening figures loom on both sides, lunging at him, threatening to take him down — but he is safe as long as he keeps his eyes fixed on the lighted line, not veering a fraction of an inch to one side or the other. It surely takes the same level of concentration for Christian to track that light as it takes for me to play a musical piece with that dreaded mechanical time keeper!
Think about it! The Christian life is a disciplined life. We are told in Ephesians to be imitators of God and to walk in love.
Agape … but not sloppy agape.
James loves us enough to tell us the truth. That is where the squirm factor enters in and the pride factor falls to the floor. (Hmmm … didn’t that sentence appear once before in this article?) I squirm because I realize I have shown partiality; I squirm because I don’t always control my tongue; I squirm because I sometimes have a critical spirit. Yes, I squirm.
The drumbeat of the truth of God’s Word marks exact time and shows us a better way. God says in Psalm 40 that He gives us a “new” song to sing — a song of praise to our God! May the “song that we sing” be exemplary in nature — right on beat so the Composer’s message will be authenticated and hit the heart of a watching world. (And when we fail — which we certainly will — we simply confess, get back in step, and learn from it. And the neat thing is, this Composer marches to the beat right alongside us, showing us how!)
Lord, play your Heavenly Metronome as we move through the arrangement You have written for our lives.
We long to march to the beat of Your drum
— not our own!