Father, as I look into Your Word today, give me grace to read it—and live it.
Read James 1:19–27
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.
New International Version (NIV)
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ReflectWhen you think of someone who is wise, who do you think of? Why?
As we finish the first chapter of James, once again James emphasizes that wisdom means having a realistic view of our old nature (21) in order to live out our new life in Christ (25).
A realistic view of our true nature means being aware of the things that are contrary to God’s work in our lives (20) as well as God’s solution to the problem. The Message translates verse 21 as “let our gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation-garden of your life.” We are not only to immerse ourselves in God’s Word, but also to act on it (22–25). Not to act is likened to someone who looks in the mirror, goes away and forgets what he is like! But the believer looks intently into the Word, perseveres and acts (23–25).
And what does the believer’s new life look like? True wisdom means going beyond an intellectual knowledge of the Bible, to a lived-out obedience: a life of careful speech, care for the vulnerable and holiness (26,27). Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote: “Mere waiting and looking is not Christian behavior… Christians are called to sympathy and action” (“Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Theology of Liberation,” Diolog, 34, Winter 1995, 26).
Who are the modern equivalent of vulnerable “widows and orphans” in your community? What action is God calling you to?
God, develop in me a spiritual life characterized by what You view as true religion.