“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” (James 1:22)
A survey was administered to churchgoers across Christian denominations. One of its questions tried to gauge if sermons really had an impact. The conclusion was one of those good news/bad news kind of things. The good news was that the vast majority of churchgoers looked forward to the sermon. They found it meaningful and important. The bad news was that those same respondents didn’t think the sermon made much difference in their lives.
James would be deeply disturbed by those survey results. Either people were not attending to the word preached, something quite common in our distracted society, or people were not putting into practice what they were hearing.
James holds a high view of the word of God. He has brought our attention so far to the wisdom found in it to navigate our lives to God’s glory, including through the tumultuous waters of trials. God uses His word to create life, bringing us forth “by the word of truth” (1:18), and to cultivate life through faith in Christ.
James’s letter is filled with references to the holy Scriptures. He references Abraham, Rahab, Job, and Elijah. He draws upon them to teach on faith, justification, obedience, perseverance, and prayer. James cites commandments found in Scripture. Clearly, God's written word is paramount to the believer's perspective and pilgrimage.
Like Jesus who in the Sermon on the Mount called us to hear His word and put it into practice, so James calls us to give ear to our God in His Word and to give heed to Him in the conduct of our lives.
Those survey results suggest something is deeply wrong. A church that neglects the word of God will be spiritually malnourished and unable to swim against the stream of cultural godlessness.
“Father, grant that I thirst after righteousness and hunger for the knowledge of You.”