How Forgetful We Are!
Have you ever gotten ready to leave the house in the morning, walked away from the mirror, and can’t remember if you put your mascara on?
Or how many of us drive away from our home and can’t remember if we closed the garage door?
This may be more true of me because I’m over 50! But James points out in chapter one that we are indeed forgetful people, especially when it comes to God’s Word.
What Happens When We Hear the Word?
In these crucial verses, James reminds us that hearing (or reading) the Word is not all that matters. We must not walk away from it.
“But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was.” James 1: 22-24
In our busy, get-things-done culture, it’s tempting to find a Bible reading plan and simply check off the fact that we did it! We read the required verses for the day and then, we move on.
I’m guilty of this, even with the Godcha App. I like to see my Heavenly Rewards points on the Daily Discovery calendar, feeling good about myself that I read the Word!
But the question I have to ask is this: have the words I just read become “implanted in my heart” (v. 21)?
If I think I can read some verses and then walk away and get on with the rest of my day, calling myself a “doer” of the word, I might be deluding myself.
What Makes Me a “Doer?”
In verse 25, James begins to explain what it means to be a doer of the Word. He uses a KEY word here: ABIDE.
“But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.” James 1:25
He contrasts the hearer with someone who looks intently at the perfect law and ABIDES by it.
This word abide means to stay or remain nearby, to persevere in.
So our first encouragement is to carve out enough time that we can stay in in God’s Word for a time. Enough time for His Word to implant.
What Does a “Doer” DO?
In the last two verses of chapter one, James gives three examples of the outflow of the abiding Word:
“If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless. Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” James 1: 26-27
- Bridle the tongue. He goes on to talk more about this in several other chapters of the book, but here, he cites the use of our tongue as evidence of our “religion,” or our devotion and service to God.
- Visit orphans and widows in their distress.
- Keep ourselves unstained by the world.
One interesting point that jumps out at me from this text is this: the pure and undefiled religion James speaks of here is in the sight of our God and Father! My abiding and living out His Word is for HIM, not others to see.
That revelation in verse 27 motivates me and changes the way I approach His Word.
Oh Father, In the midst of my full and busy life, I’m convicted by how much of Your Word I read and then quickly forget. Please help me prioritize time to abide in Your Word so that what overflows is a natural devotion to You and Your commands. I want You to see me bridling my tongue, helping those in need, especially orphans and widows, and keeping myself unstained by the world around me.