“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. —James 1:22
Attending Sunday morning worship services weekly and going to Bible study religiously can easily become habitual, with no life-changing results. Attendance is a good thing, but the ultimate purpose should be to experience change—spiritual growth. This is what James wrote about. We are not just hearers of the word, but doers.
When James, the brother of Jesus, wrote this letter the believers from Jerusalem had been scattered throughout Judea, Samaria, Phoenicia, and to Antioch in Syria and Cyprus. This scattering was due to persecution under Herod Agrippa (Acts 12:1-5), which began with the stoning death of Stephen. James’ letter addresses practical issues for Christians to demonstrate a lifestyle that exemplifies their Christian faith. James instructs and motivates Christians to develop a mature and consistent faith and to show how Christians can have a loyal friendship with God and with each other.
In essence, James is not writing about how to become a Christian, but instead how to act like a Christian; in other words “practice” what you preach. Having all the correct beliefs about Jesus Christ is not enough. Even demons believe. Real, life-changing faith should produce action. James is specific in his description of the spiritual actions expected of Christians. The primary concern expressed in James’ letter is that readers mature in their Christian walk of faith. And the way to DO that is to apply biblical principles, and obey His command. Conclusively, just do it! James’ words are just as easy to understand today; but the question of the day is: Are we doing what he says? What kind of behavior characterizes our spiritual lives?
Too often Christians choose to compare their works and spiritual growth to the actions of others who profess to be Christians. Apostle Paul addresses this misconception in Galatians 6:4-5 (CJB), So let each of you scrutinize his own actions. Then if you do find something to boast about, at least the boasting will be based on what you have actually done and not merely on a judgment that you are better than someone else; for each person will carry his own load.”
Be sure to keep attending Sunday morning worship services and scheduled Bible study religiously, just make sure your habitual attendance is producing habitual change in character and conduct. Then you’ll be well on the path to “powerful living” by doing (obeying) the word, not merely listening to it and deceiving yourselves.