“But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. 23 For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. 24 You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. 25 But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.”/ James 1:22-25
Ran across these verses a couple of days ago and I felt convicted when I started typing out a message to you about not just hearing God’s Word but hearing then applying it. I applied this truth and MAN!!! I’m telling you, God’s Word has never been more real to me!! The reason I’m so excited is because there has been so many days where I send these messages and I am just plugging in verses that fit my experiences that day or verses that I know I can type a lot about. I bet you think since I send these everyday that I don’t have this problem but you’re definitely wrong. I struggle with this just as much as the next person. I just want to be honest here with you so that if this is something you struggle with then that’s okay but let’s dig into this awesome Word and see if we can move past glancing or hearing God’s Word. Let’s read it, chew on it, think about it intensely and try to squeeze every ounce of truth that God has for us out of it.
So does anyone do a daily devotion or set out some time in your day to, let’s say read your Bible for 10 minutes? I’m sure a lot of us do something along those lines but let’s ask this question and be honest with yourself. If someone came up to you at the end of the day and asked, “what did you read this morning?” Honestly, I know there’s a lot of days I answer that as a big fat IDK! Maybe you can remember exactly what you read, so this same person comes back to you and asks, “how did you apply it to your life?” UH OH!! Once again be honest with yourself and once again I sit here convicted because I have went so many days reading and picking up knowledge but that’s all it is. Just stuff swimming around in my brain. It’s convicting to think about all the time we waste in our precious lives, living in struggle mode and feeling defeated when God has given us His Word as instruction to help us on this journey. His Word helps us see Him in a bigger light and when we are walking in His light, things are much different than a life depended on what we have.
It’s so easy to glance right over Bible verses and speed through our “quiet times” everyday. We do it more to check off our Christian checklist than actually applying the lessons God gives us to learn through applying it. I’m preaching to myself on this so if your toes hurt from getting stepped on then good! That means we’re both learning something here that will really help us. With the easy thing to do being just reading the Word, then going about our day like nothing happened. We tell ourselves we’re good because we spent that time reading our Bibles and we can tell you all about it but does anything change in your life? Probably not. We walk through everyday with this checklist mentality and James says when we do this we are only fooling ourselves and honestly hurting ourselves. I thought about the days I used to have conditioning for basketball before basketball season started. The purpose of all this running was to get in shape and prepare ourselves for all the running we’d do when the actual games started. I also remember when one of our coaches had us do drills, he wasn’t too good at paying attention to everybody so we’d take any chance we could to not do the drill all the way. We’d get by with it without him ever knowing but do you think we were as ready as we could’ve been when the season came around? Nope! We thought we were helping ourselves by not having to run as much but in all honesty we were hurting ourselves.
It’s the same way with reading God’s Word. Knowledge is all good and well but knowledge without action is just knowledge. Sure you can recite some verses or answer some Bible trivia questions but how does that help prepare you for the season of life you’re living? It doesn’t. James is telling us here to not just glance at God’s Word but look deeply into it. It’s not just reading and closing the book or your Bible app, it’s looking intensely into what God is speaking to you. I prayed over these verses asking God to open my heart and mind to help me see what message He wanted me to see and how can it be applied to my life? I can’t remember the last time I did that and guess what! I saw this Word deeper than I’ve seen God’s Word speak to me in a long long time. I’ve spent so long trying to look the part and sneaking by doing the minimum, it was crazy the difference.
Just like basketball conditioning God gives us His Word to help us, to make us better, stronger and more equipped for anything life throws at us. How awesome is that? God gave us His Word on paper to help us? When you think about it like that in the truth of it it makes you wonder why we don’t strive for the maximum out of His Word. When we look deeply into God’s Word seeking desperately to find the message He has for us in each word and JUST DO IT! That’s where true knowledge comes from. True knowledge is tied to experience. To see God’s Word the in the biggest ways, JUST DO IT, and you’ll be amazed at what you see God do in your life. Then we begin to see why God left these scriptures for us, going out and applying God’s Word in your life, deeply believing it and acting on it, that’s where you see God’s Word is life that He breathes into us. Instead of being deceived by our “do enough” attitude, God shows us where we need to get better, and through that gives us the Word to grow, learn, and move forward in our lives past our struggles and whatever else comes our way. It’s God’s perfect Word that sets the believer free from all of the self-imposed limitations we put on ourselves by being only knowledgeable hearers.
That last part of verse 25, where it says “if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.” It’s easy to look at that and think well if I just do enough then God will rain down some blessings on me. I guess that’s the religious checklist mentality coming back. It’s not do enough and God will bless you. The blessings that God brings to someone who hears and applies His truth to their lives is from what happens when applied. That freedom and life that God breathes into us when we deeply meditate on His Word and JUST DO IT mentioned in the last paragraph that’s the blessing to be had. Living out God’s Word is the biggest blessing because you’ll begin to see and know God more deeper than ever before. His Word opens up your heart and mind to see His truth, you’ll no longer look at your circumstances as tough or impossible. With God’s vision those circumstances are just opportunities to get better, learn, and get stronger than you were before they arrived. Seeing God so intimately and clearly shines His powerful and consuming light to every situation, when you think you usually would feel defeated and hopeless. God’s light shines on that old darkness showing you He has made you victorious even before the victory is in sight. Those lies the devil likes to throw in your mind to hold you back, God’s truth squashes every lie and shows you with Him, you are free from all that stuff that used to get you down. The Holy Spirit that dwells within you speaks God’s truth above those lies, reminding you of what God’s Word says.
When we deeply seek God the message God has for you in His Word, and then hold tight to it, living under His truth, everything changes. The blessing from God comes from not just hearing, but hearing and living. He’s given us no excuse to stay in the same place tomorrow that we were in today. His Word is an aid to push us forward in life, to grow us and strengthen us, and it’s sitting right in front you. Let’s not hold ourselves back anymore from the powerful life-changing truth that God has given us access to. No excuses, JUST DO IT!!!!!!