A 2014 survey of “The Bible in American Life” found that only 48 percent of Americans reported reading any Scripture at any time during the previous year. Among those who did, the percentages were significantly higher for women, older people, Southerners, and African Americans. Just 9 percent of Americans, however, said they read the Bible daily.
To obey God’s Word, one must at least read it! Mature faith is characterized by obedience to Scripture. Accepting the Word (v. 21) means allowing it to influence all parts of your life. This isn’t some abstract or esoteric process—it’s straightforward. “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says” (v. 22). The listening must be active rather than passive; that is, a response is needed. This idea is consistent with what we read throughout the Old Testament. The command “Hear, O Israel” was not merely an invitation to listen but an exhortation to obey.
To do anything else is self-deception. It would be like a person who gazes into a mirror and then forgets what he looks like (vv. 23–24). James’ example is both funny and tragic. The information received from the mirror is useless. It made no impact. He didn’t do anything with it. In the same way, Christians who hear God’s Word and then continue to live as before are tragic fools.
When an obedient person looks into the mirror of Scripture—the “perfect law that gives freedom”—they see a true reflection of self in relation to God (v. 25). A maturing follower of Jesus does not forget this truth but lives within and by it. This person “continues in it,” a phrase that highlights the link between obedience and endurance. That’s why such people “will be blessed in what they do.”
Would you include in your prayers Joe Gonzalez, Chris Wright, Scott Carlon, and Deborah Massey, the staff of KMBI, Moody Radio station in Spokane, Wash.? We thank the Lord that their ministry has touched thousands of lives to make a difference for eternity.