Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires. So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls.
But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. 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.
They say that extroverts speak to think, while introverts think to speak. In other words, some people think out loud, saying whatever comes to mind as they work through their ideas. Others, keep quiet until they have figured out what is best to say out loud. Neither approach is inherently better than the other, but it’s probably true that introverts tend to like this passage of scripture more than extroverts do. Listen before you speak, or better, listen more than you speak. It may come naturally to some of us, but it’s wisdom for all of us. Now, before you think that quiet people have a spiritual advantage over talkative people, give heed to the rest of the passage, where all of us are told to put God’s word into practice. The challenge here is not just about listening to God’s word, it’s about living it out. That challenge falls equally on all of us.
As an author of scripture, it may come as no surprise that James believed in the power of God’s word to change lives, even to save souls. The Bible gives us wisdom and direction for how to live, and what matters most, according to James, is that we put that wisdom into practice. That’s exactly what James’ big brother Jesus said too. Our Lord told a parable at the end of his Sermon on the Mount about two people building homes (Matthew 7:24-29). One built on the sand, the other on a solid rock foundation. When a storm hit, the home built on sand was destroyed, while the other stood strong. The person who built on the rock, Jesus said, is like someone who hears and obeys God’s word. Following God’s wisdom protects us through the storm, and James tells us that God will add blessings to our lives as we faithfully follow his word.
So, how goes your walk with the Lord? Are you keeping in stride with God, stepping where He directs and staying on the path his word sets forth? Or have you wandered away, following your own ideas or the ways of the world? Obedience isn’t easy. It takes daily commitment and sincere effort to love your neighbors, tell the truth, share Jesus’ story, and turn away from temptation. Even if you feed daily on God’s word (and read some helpful devotions!), it’s still up to you, under the Spirit’s guidance, to put God’s wisdom into practice. When you do, the foundation of your life will hold fast and God will bless you.
God of Wisdom, thank You for Your word that shows me how to live and how to honor Your name. Help me to put into practice what You have told me. May my life be built on the solid foundation of Your truth, and may You bless me as I follow Jesus. Amen.
Pastor Mike Mirakian