“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 1:22-25
As a Christian, it is pretty easy to talk about what I believe. I can talk about grace, I can talk about loving my neighbor, raising my kids in church, the importance of forgiving people who hurt me, etc. Scripture reminds us, however, grace needs to be at work and worked out in our lives in order for us to truly reap the benefits of grace. In other words, walking the talk.
James contrasts doing with hearing. Hearing without doing, he says, is like looking at your face in a mirror and then walking away and forgetting what you look like. In other words, “hearing” equals looking in the mirror, and “not doing” equals walking away and forgetting. The point here is that hearing the Word isn’t the same as obeying it. If all we do is hear, and do nothing, James says we are fooling ourselves.
James is telling us to pay full attention, listen as if your life depends on it. Then immediately incorporate what you hear into your life. Adapt every aspect of what you’ve heard into your thoughts, into your hearts, your words, character and conduct. Live out what you’ve heard.
When Jesus was asked what’s the greatest commandment, He said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-39) They go together. You can’t love God without loving your neighbor. You can’t have God-talk without God-acts. James says it’s not an either or situation. We don’t earn our salvation by doing good works. Salvation as a gift from God; salvation is something given freely by Him rather than something we earn. James isn’t saying, “if you do good deeds then you’ll be saved.” He’s saying “if you’ve been saved, then you’ll do good works.”
Let people see your faith through your actions, not your actions through your faith. Let your actions be real and intentional, filled with grace and love, through the power of Jesus. Don’t just talk the talk, walk the talk.
- What does putting your faith into action mean to you?
- What can you do this week to better put your faith into action?