Verse 22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.
Communication isn’t all about speaking but also about listening. As Christians, we need to be discerning of what is going into our ears because what we listen to affects how we respond and act.
James starts this verse with the words, “Do not merely listen” which implies that he knew his readers were already listening. Unlike our world where there are many things to access to listen to, the world that James lived in was devoid of the multiple sources of information. In those days people listened to what they knew they needed to. We often listen to things merely because we have nothing better to do or simply because we don’t like quiet.
One of the dangers of constantly having things to listen to is that we stop being intentional about what we are listening to. Maybe we listen to the local radio station that plays contemporary Christian music. We sing along as we become more and more familiar with each song. This may seem harmless enough but even that music could lead us astray. When we aren’t paying close attention to what we are listening to, we may find ourselves singing words that are not theologically correct.
What we are listening to is only part of the issue. James makes the point that unless we are acting upon what we hear, our listening is worthless. God didn’t send people to speak for Him so that they would be ignored, nor did He send them to gain an audience. God doesn’t waste His words so there is no reason we should think that He doesn’t have a purpose for every word spoken in the Bible.
One of His greatest reasons for giving His Word was so that He could give us instructions for life. He wants us to know Him through His Word and that in coming to know Him, we will see the truths of a Christ-like life. He wants us to learn from the teachings of the Word, to not only understand but to act upon what we have heard. Unless we intentionally act upon what we have learned, we will miss the blessing that can be ours as obedient children, namely open communication with the Father. Each act of obedience will take us deeper into the heart of the Lord and that will continue to cycle in our lives as seeking, learning, obeying, and receiving the blessing of growing relationship with Him will cause us to seek Him some more.
Making It Personal
How intentional are you about taking to heart what you have read and putting it into action in your life? In what area of life do you find it hardest to obey? Is there an idol in that area of your life that is hindering your relationship with Him?
Making It Personal Kids
Do you find it hard to listen and immediately obey mom and dad? Do you struggle obeying Jesus right away? What can you do to help you obey quickly?
Father, thank You for giving us instruction to live lives that please You. Help us come to love You in a way that we obey promptly, putting into action all You teach us to do. In Jesus’ name, amen.