As we study the Bible, when we come across the word “therefore,” we should always ask ourselves this question: “What is the connection between the topics or teachings before and after that particular word?” In this case, James is uniting the teaching from verses 19-20 that call for focused listening, cautious speech, and guarded tempers to verse 21, which now provides the steps we should take in order to fulfill the previous expectations.
There is a direct connection between the removal of moral filth and guarding our speech and attitudes. As we humbly submit to God’s Word and expectations, we will become more concerned for one another and carefully listen to what others have to say.
“Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.” (James 1:21-25)
How should we practice submission to God’s Word? James answers that question with a phrase similar to a slogan made popular by the Nike Corporation: “Just Do It!” Nike was referring to athletic accomplishments, but James is talking about something far more important. As Christ followers, it is vital that we do more than just hear or read the Bible; we MUST act on it. He uses a simple illustration to drive home his point. When we only hear or read the teachings of God’s Word but don’t allow them to permeate our lives and change us from within, we are just like someone who, after looking into a mirror, walks away and forgets what he looks like. What a sad description of so many who may hear and read the truth of the Bible but are unaffected by its life changing truth.
James reminds us that freedom is the result of God’s truth. As we continue to live in it, striving to live in obedience, practicing the expectations, and pursuing the challenges, we will be blessed. There is no expectation of perfection, just faithful pursuit. We must be more than hearers; we must do what God has called us to do and live how He has called us to live.
Let me challenge you a little today. Are you faithful in hearing the Word? Do you attend church, Life Groups or participate in a Bible study? These are all good things, but are you changed by what you hear? Are you motivated to act on what you have heard? Are you doing things that you have not done before out of obedience to the Word of God?
Take time today and ask God to stir your heart to action and obedience. God expects us to do more than just hear His truth and feel good about it. He expects us to ‘Just Do It’ and live in obedience.