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Listening and doing

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. James 1:21-25

Listening to God is a recurring principle in the Bible. A good example was given by James where he said, “Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak” (1:19). Being “slow to speak” refers to the important Biblical idea of being still before God and talking to Him with appropriate reverence. The thrust of the passage would thus be to help change the reader’s negative attitude toward God into a positive one. In this way, his spiritual decline would be prevented and acceleration in his spiritual growth would begin. Christians can pretend to obey God without truly listening to his commands. The readers of James’s letter knew the transforming power of God’s Word, the gospel. Thinking right always precedes acting right. That is why it is important to have a renewed mind. It is really impossible to grasp the concept of growing in our relationship with God, serving others and carrying it out with joy, until our minds are freed from the world's mold and transformed by the Lord's power. We need to allow the planted Word of God in our hearts to influence our actions. This is what is required so we could get rid of all the filth and evil in our lives. Obedience to God’s Word promotes holiness and develops godly character. We demonstrate a genuine likeness toward Christ as we get rid of the burning desires for filth and evil. This shows the presence of a real experience of salvation. In our obedience we show that we are welcoming God’s message in our lives. “Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.” God’s command is literally to “keep on becoming doers of God’s Word.” He insisted on an obedience which lasts. This does not minimize the importance of hearing God’s Word. It does emphasize strongly the need for acting. Listening and meditating on God’s Word is not just an interesting moral, intellectual or theological exercise. We need to do something other than sitting and listening. Jesus pronounced a blessing only on those “who hear the word of God and obey it” (Luke 11:28).


Noel De Guzman

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