Do what God says instead of shooting your mouth off

by Kyle
published August 17, 2013


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Everybody knows James 1:22, even if they don’t know where it is. It’s one of the more forceful and convicting verses in all of Scripture:

“But prove yourselves doers of the Word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.”

If you’re in the Bible, hearing the “Word” at church and think you’re a “Christian,” but don’t actually do what the Bible says you should, James is calling you a fool.

He goes on in the next couple verses to compare someone who knows what the Bible says about something and doesn’t do it to someone who forgets what their face looks like after they look at it in the mirror. What a fool!

I suspect you might not have a hard time agreeing with me, at least in principle, on this one. If we really think the Bible is the word of God that it claims itself to be, then it makes complete logical sense to do what it says. I’ll even bet you, just like me, are thinking right now of some way in which you have really been faithful and obedient to the word rather than all the ways you haven’t.

The rub, though, is in the context.

James 1:22 begins with a “but.” To what is he contrasting the concept of doing rather than just hearing the word?

James 1:19 talks about listening to others instead of speaking and/or getting angry. It’s as if James is saying, “Please just be quiet and listen to (insert name of difficult person in your life) before you really screw things up.”

How do we know you opening your mouth in anger will screw things up? “The anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.” (James 1:20)

In the next verse, James compares this bitter, angry, spiteful, or loudmouthed way of handling frustration to “filthiness” and “wickedness.” This is the opposite of “humility” and God’s word.

So why does James start talking about doing the word rather than just hearing it? Because the chief way you and I completely disregard it is in our frustrated moments. C.S. Lewis said, “Surely what a man does when he is taken off his guard is the best evidence for what sort of man he is.”

When you’re tired and hungry and fed-up and frustrated, are you still striving to follow God’s word, or are you opening your mouth in anger at other people? (If you have 26 chromosomes, the answer is probably “no.”)

Allow me to paraphrase James: When you’re angry and frustrated, start listening more and stop being petty and spiteful. Nothing good will ever come of that. Instead, be wise and do what God says.

This is the same God, if you’ll recall, who says, “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44)

What do you think?

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