Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. James 1:22
I started reading the Bible to my sons when my youngest, Xavier, entered kindergarten. I would look for teachable moments and share verses that would apply to our circumstances and encourage them to pray with me. Xavier memorized Scripture without even trying. If we were in a predicament in which we needed wisdom, he’d blurt out verses that shined a light on God’s truth.
One day, I got angry and spoke harshly within his earshot. My son hugged me and said, “Practice what you preach, Mama.”
Xavier’s gentle reminder echoes the wise counsel of James as he addressed Jewish believers in Jesus scattered in various countries (James 1:1). Highlighting the various ways sin can interfere with our witness for Christ, James encouraged them to “humbly accept the word planted in them” (v. 21). By hearing but not obeying Scripture, we’re like people who look in the mirror and forget what we look like (vv. 23–24). We can lose sight of the privilege we’ve been given as image-bearers made right with God through the blood of Christ.
Believers in Jesus are commanded to share the gospel. The Holy Spirit changes us while empowering us to become better representatives and therefore messengers of the good news. As our loving obedience helps us reflect the light of God’s truth and love wherever He sends us, we can point others to Jesus by practicing what we preach.
In what ways have you struggled to obey Scripture? In what ways has God transformed you?
Loving God, please make me more like You so I can use every opportunity You give me to share Your love with others.
When we think of the Beatitudes, we rightly think of the sayings in Matthew where Jesus declared that certain kinds of people are “blessed” (see Matthew 5:3–12). The word translated “blessed” is the word makários, which means “fortunate, favored, well-off.” The word is sometimes rendered “happy.” Three times in the book of James some form of the word makários is used (1:12, 25; 5:11). In 1:12, a blessing is pronounced on those who persevere under trial. In 1:25, those who hear and act upon the words of God are declared blessed: “Whoever looks intently into the perfect law . . . will be blessed in what they do.” This echoes the words of Jesus in Luke 11:28: “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” And, finally, in James 5:11, the verb form of the word blessed is used.