A DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT by Brandon Young
19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. 21 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.
22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.
26 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. 27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
Let’s begin with a simple question: How often do you read the Bible? Everyday? A few times a week? Less?
Now, how often do you actually go out and DO what the words you have read tell you to do. How often do you read the Bible and then go into the world and do what it says? It is certainly more difficult to apply and act on that which we read in the Good Book. Even so, we read in James chapter one that the Word can save us, give us freedom, and bless us.
However, these things cannot occur if we simply read the words and do not put them into practice.
One of the biggest wake-up calls for me in this passage is the fact that I can deceive myself in two major ways:
- Reading scripture while not doing what it says
- Not holding a tight rein on my words.
When thinking about deceit, we might think of a scheming person who wants something from others and acts in a deceitful way to get it. Rarely do we consider how we are deceiving our own selves. How could listening to scripture ever be seen as a negative act? And yet, we see it here. It is a warning to believers. Verses 23-24 compare this type of scripture observation to a man who looks at himself in a mirror and forgets what he looks like. Forgetting what one looks like seems like an intentional choice to live as if they know not what they saw. This person doesn;t like what they see and trying to ignore who they really are.
When reading scripture, it is very often like looking into a mirror. It shows us who we are on the outside and on the inside. Scripture is sharp and truthful and pierces our very soul. If we choose to read the Word but not apply what we hear, we are teaching ourselves bad Christianity where being two-sided is a normal part of life. That is why in verse 27 we read that pure Christianity is not only caring for orphans and widows, but also not becoming polluted by the world. Our faith cannot be pure if we live without loving deeds and keeping a tight rein on our tongues. We may be very religious, full of knowledge and positivity, but if we step outside of our comfortable Christian world and conform to the patterns of this world, then, James says, our religion is worthless!
Verse 19 says clearly to be quick to listen but slow to speak. How difficult it is to be patient when we have an opinion on something that is being overlooked. How annoying it can be to have to wait and listen to someone who will not stop talking when all you want to do is take over the conversation. We all struggle in many areas in holding our tongues, but doing so trains us up in the ways of righteousness that God desires.
Spend time today considering two things:
- What ways have I been deceiving myself in how I live in the world?
- How can I work on applying what I read, and not forget the Word of God in my deeds?
As we answer these questions, let us pray that God may grant us the righteousness which God himself desires to see in us.