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 a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.
James was the Pastor of the church in Jerusalem at the very start of the church age. Hundreds of people were being saved every week and the body of Christ was growing at an incredible rate.
I believe that he wrote this book as a sort of handbook for new believers. It was something they could continue to refer to as their walk with Christ matured.
I also believe that this was the first New Testament document to have been written. Before any of the Gospels or the letters of Paul, we have the book of James. But that’s where my questions begin. What does he mean by the term Word of God?
Over time, we’ve come to assume that when the Bible says Word of God, it’s talking about itself. Is that a correct assumption? After all, the New Testament wasn’t written yet.
On top of that, the normal believer of that day had no access to the Old Testament. It wasn’t until the invention of the printing press that the Bible became available to the average Christian. This brings me to my original question – hearers and doers of what?
The answer to this is also the destiny God has for His people right now. I’m talking about hearing a Word from God Himself. The early church had no other choice for knowing what to do. They had to seek the direction of the Holy Spirit.
The key here is the word listen. James isn’t talking about reading the Bible. He’s assuming that God’s people are spending time in the Lord’s presence listening to Him. The word he uses is actually an intense form of listening – giving your total attention to the one speaking.
One of our biggest problems in this generation is that we’re not even listeners yet. James is not talking about listening to a great sermon and then trying to be a good person. He’s looking for someone to deepen their relationship with the Father.
We can’t be a doer of God’s Word until we actually spend some time listening to the Holy Spirit. The Lord has so much He wants to share with us. There’s a great deal we need to hear if we would just take the time in His presence.
This is the lesson that the modern church needs to learn. God wants to speak to us. He wants us to hear a Word from His Spirit. Then we can walk in it and know that we will see God’s hand at work in us and in those around us.
We need to spend time listening – then doing.
Question: What would the church look like if we truly listened to God?
© Nick Zaccardi 2014