One of my most favorite books within the Bible is the book of James.
This book is not a narrative like the gospels and Acts, rather it is more like the “Proverbs of the New Testament.” Instead of telling stories of Jesus or providing a highly structured theological doctrine to develop or substantiate faith, James chooses applicable wisdom. James’ collection of sayings and life lessons provides the reader with a deeper understanding of sanctified thinking. It is not, however, without structure as each chapter builds upon the last with relevant themes for living a life in service to God.
Living By the WORD:
James 1:22-24 begins with a comparison word, “but.” To understand what comes after this word we must consider what comes before it. First, James establishes our very existence as people of faith and disciples of Jesus. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures (1:18). James reminds us that as Christians we are tasked not only with spreading God’s word, but by living by it.
We are also saved by His word. Therefore, put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls (1:21). Here we see that God was very deliberate. He knew planting His word into the hearts of sinners would give them a fulfilling spiritual life and ultimately life eternal. We must take responsibility for how we live our lives. In doing so, we can better cultivate a life that cooperates with and does not oppose the word of God.
A Call to Action:
Verse twenty-two is God’s call to action. James tells us, “be a doer.” The word be means “to become” or “be born.” We were not divinely designed to just sit and listen. We cannot simply hear God’s word. We cannot allow His Word to go in one ear and out the other. God wants us to get up and to get motivated.
Look In The Mirror:
James then uses a mirror metaphor to elaborate on his message. Think about it, how many of us spend time in front of the mirror each morning? While mirrors can show us the physical imperfections of our bodies, they neglect to illuminate our inward imperfections. And if you’re like me, you already know there are plenty! When we skim over parts of the Bible that are uncomfortable for us or choose to selectively listen to passages we find enjoyable, we are missing out on vital lessons God has for our lives. These lessons help shape the totality of our moral compasses. Not opening our minds and hearts to these readings is like getting an x-ray and ignoring the results. We must listen, act, and consistently ask ourselves, “How can I be a better disciple?” Following God is not just believing, it’s also about doing what God says. Once we commit to action, each of us will be blessed in our doing.