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When my wife and I lived in Florida I had a little bitty lime tree which never produced good fruit. It was amazing. No matter what I did the tree never produced any fruit which I could use. The limes were always covered in black kind of mold or fungus or something. I would wash them off but it would remain. One afternoon I took to inspecting the lime tree closely and discovered that this blight which covered the fruit was also covering the branches and the trunk of the small tree. I brushed aside some of the sandy soil around the base of the tree only to discover that the black coloration when right into the roots. I broke off one of the branches of the tree and further discovered that the black substance stained even the inside of the tree. The tree was sick from within. From a distance the tree looked finding, up close the tree looked like something had merely settled upon its fruit and branches, upon closer inspection it became clear that the disease emanated from within.

So it is, the text says, with the man who thinks that he is religious but is deceived. “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.” (James 1:26 ESV) If anyone thinks himself to be religious must not examine outward standards of appearance but must examine his heart. This is the difference between knowing something is true and residing in truth of something. This is the great difference between knowing that God is merciful and loving and dwelling, abiding, in the radical, unmistakable, overwhelming, soul-crushing-immensity of God’s grace!

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