Jamesby Douglas Estes
Though the Word of God is planted in believers, James warns us that there is still a danger of: hearing it and then thinking that the mere act of hearing is sufficient. James is clear: If we hear the Word of God and do not act on it, then we have deceived ourselves. We must listen and obey. One is not enough.
It is still possible for us to merely hear the Word of God today. We may go to church and listen to the pastor read from the Word and exhort us to a changed life-but leave the church forgetting what we have heard. This was also a great concern in the ancient world. James was surely aware of the crowds of people who heard Jesus but wandered away, ignoring His calls to action (see John 6:66).
To make his point, James uses an analogy of a man who looks at himself in a mirror but cannot recall what he looks like afterwards (James 1:23-25). If we hear God's Word but do not obey it, then we are like this man. In the ancient world, glass mirrors were less common than today, but most people had access to at least a bit of polished metal. More importantly, a mirror was a greater symbol of self-consideration than it is today.
When James speaks of the man who looks in the mirror and then forgets, he is implying that this man's thoughts and wisdom are shallow. His looking in the mirror has no effect.
James then explains that when we look to God's instructions for our lives and act on them-and continue to act on them-then God will bless us as a result of our obedience (v. 25). The one who takes a long, hard look at God's instructions for life, tries to keep them in mind, and does what they are saying, doesn't forget what these instructions look like because his actions have changed who he is-and who he appears to be in the world.
When we obey God and follow His wisdom for our lives, we will be blessed in what we do (v. 25).
When we hear the Word, how can we know what God wants us to do? How can we be sure that we are hearing God's instructions and not our own? What practical steps do we need to take?
What does the Bible tell us we are to do in order to receive blessings from God? What are a few practical steps we can take to receive these blessings?