“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. 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.” (James 1:19-22 NIV)
We know from reading The Word that faith comes by hearing and hearing by The Word of God–says, Paul to us. Now, James tells us, don’t just listen to The Word, do it! If our faith in God is going to be sustained, then we must do what we hear and read from The Word–and not just people.
The Messengers of God are worth hearing when they are speaking God’s message. When they veer off into their own imaginations and opinions that are based on nothing–especially not The Word–no one is obligated to hear or do what they say, yet so many people do.
I’m thinking particularly about a pastor–somewhere–who poured bleach over the heads of his congregants to “wash them clean” because of erroneous understanding of The Word. The Word tells us that the blood Jesus shed on the cross is what washes us clean–not bleach or anything else we attempt to do. The psalmist mentions being washed by The Word–not the literal word–but as representing what Jesus would accomplish since He is The Word.
Getting back to hearing and not doing–many people claim to listen to their pastor on a Sunday morning and praise their messages, but when asked what they said–they develop amnesia. “I don’t know, but it sure was good.” Apparently, they were not the good ground into which The Word was supposed to be sown.
Then there are those who wouldn’t miss church for the world–uh uh–no siree, they’re not missing church. They are there every time the doors open and listen intently to every word heard, but then their lives don’t demonstrate what they heard (unless they heard a message that opposes God’s Word). From their actions, one can tell, they didn’t hear about loving one’s neighbor as themselves because the minute they got into the parking lot, they started cussing out everyone in their way. They get home and talk about everyone who attended church–they talk about the pastor and his wife; they talk about the noisy children; they talk about the ushers who are too slow; they talk about the soloist and how they could see better than they did; they talk about the choir director who, “couldn’t direct traffic.” They talk about everyone and since they “saw” so much going on, how on earth did they hear any Word?
We can hear without listening and when we pretend to listen the only person we fool is us. God is not mocked. He knows our hearts and He knows when we’re pretending to pay attention and so does everyone else when we are not doing The Word.
We “do The Word” when we obey The Word and people know we have either read with understanding or at listened to God’s messengers because they see it in our conduct. We who “do” The Word don’t live in opposition to The Word, but strive to obey God in all things and that obedience starts with knowing how to love others and God.
Today would be a good day to start–not just listening, but in doing The Word–loving all we meet and greet and making the devil cringe because we even woke up–with desire in our hearts to please God!