November 4, 2010 • By Ed Wrather
Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does. If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one's religion is useless. Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world. - James 1:21-27 NKJV.
Are you a gurner? I have seen some people do this before, but never knew that it was almost a sport. Gurning contests are a rural English tradition that have been around for a couple of hundred years or more. Gurning consists of making a face, i.e. distorting the facial features. At least one man had his teeth removed so he could more easily contort his face. A face frequently made in these contests is known as the duck face. Anne Woods has won the contest at the Egremont, England Crab Fair 27 times. Tommy Mattison, the men's champion has won it 11 times. Both Woods, and Mattison will be in the next Guinness World Records book.
Some people purposely distort their faces, and some people purposely distort their thinking. The apostle James writes about some mental gurners in his letter. Apparently, there were people who heard what God said they should do, knew what God wanted them to do, but still they did not do it. Hmm, that sounds a lot like the majority of the people who call themselves Christians today. We go to church on Sunday, and then go out and live like the devil the rest of the week. Maybe, it isn't quite that bad, but surveys have shown that the goals, the desires, and actions of those who call themselves Christians - are not much different from those who do not consider themselves to be Christians. James says that this kind of religion is “useless!”
The apostle Paul has this to say about the mental gurning of Christians in Romans 6, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” Paul goes on to say in verses 12 - 14 of chapter 6, “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.”
Are you a Christian gurner, mentally distorting the Word of God to fit your life, and your circumstances? If your mindset is that you will go ahead and commit a sin, because you know God will forgive you, then you are gurning in your thinking. There is always a cost to sin because “...the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23a).” The price of sin will always be more than you want to pay.