Do not merely listen to the word . . . . Do what it says. James 1:22
The scene in the parking lot might have been funny if it wasn’t so tragic. Two drivers were arguing loudly over one of their cars that was blocking the passage of the other, and harsh words were being exchanged.
What made it especially painful to watch was that this quarrel was taking place in the parking lot of a church. The two men had possibly just heard a sermon about love, patience, or forgiveness, but it was all forgotten in the heat of the moment.
Passing by, I shook my head—then quickly realized I was no better. How many times had I read the Bible, only to fall into sin moments later with an uncharitable thought? How many times had I behaved like the person who “looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like” (James 1:23–24)?
James was calling on his readers not only to read and reflect on God’s instruction, but also to do what it says (v. 22). A complete faith, he noted, means both knowing Scripture and putting it into action.
Life’s circumstances can make it hard to apply what Scripture reveals. But if we ask the Father, He’ll surely help us obey His words and please Him with our actions.
What have you read in Scripture that you can do today? What might you stop doing?
Dear God, forgive me for the times I haven’t done what You’ve instructed. Give me the strength and the willingness to obey You with words, actions, and thoughts that please You.
The book of James is often referred to as the Proverbs of the New Testament because its message centers around wise living in light of the Scriptures. The middle paragraph of today’s passage (1:22–25) highlights this focus.
Though in our English translations verse 22 seems to contain two commands—“do not” and “do”—in Greek there’s only a single imperative verb, ginesthe, which means “to be.” It indicates continuing action—“continue to be”—rather than a single completed action. Be is also the first word in the Greek, which emphasizes its significance in the verse. So James’ command in 1:22 would literally read: “Be, and continue to be, doers of the word and not merely hearers, deceiving yourselves.” James is emphasizing that actions guided by the Scriptures and the enabling of the Spirit are to define the believer in Jesus.