James teaches us what the outcome of listening to the Word of God should be. God’s own will brought us into existence as Christians. He did this by the Word of Truth. Knowing this, we need to become eager and humble learners, quick to hear and slow to speak. We need to be eager to continue to receive the Word of God.
We must put away all filthiness. We must not do so selectively. We must not only put away sin that tempts us from the outside but also sin that makes its appearance from the inside, because the flesh still dwells within us. As we become aware of it, we confess it. When the sinful weeds have been pulled, we can receive the Word of God. We need to grasp its power, because it is able to save our souls. It is at work in us now—the ongoing work of sanctification. God’s Word is at work in our lives.
James also invites us to recognize that receiving the Word of God does not mean just being a hearer. We must be doers of the Word if we’re going to experience its life-saving, soul-transforming power. We must strive to be doers of the Word. We must not be mere listeners, equating the knowledge of something with the experience of it. We are not auditors of the Word of God. We are practitioners of the Word.
We have to be active with what we learn and hear. We’re not commentators watching a game; we’re in the game. We’re not hearers only. If this is you, here’s something you can know about yourself: you’re in dangerous territory. Just listening to the Word of God and not putting it into practice produces self-deception. If you keep listening to sermons and keep reading the Scriptures the way you do, without applying them, what will be the outcome in your life?
Jesus warns us to take care how we listen because even what we think we have might be taken away from us. (Luke 8:18) Theologian Robert Stein puts it this way, “The person who has listened carefully to God’s word will understand it even more clearly, but the person who does not pay heed to how he or she hears God’s Word will lose even that which they think they know. Careful hearing, i.e., heeding, results in greater understanding of God’s revealed Word; careless hearing, i.e., a lack of heeding, results in the loss of what has been heard.”
We would like to thank Walking In Grace / Richard Caldwell for providing this plan.