My brother is a sergeant first class in the army. He has served tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. At one point in his life, he was a drill sergeant. He would do morning PT with his “grunts” who “weren’t getting any older” and then work out in the gym on his own in the afternoons. The last time he and I worked out together, he pushed me so hard that I could not lift a hamburger that night at dinner. He is a no-nonsense kind of guy. One of his favorite sayings is, “Deeds, not words.” This phrase is an English translation of a popular Latin motto used by Roman soldiers, the original no-nonsense tough guys in world history. And this mantra perfectly captures James’ message for us in today’s passage.
God does not want us to just listen to His Word or even talk about it, but to do it, to apply it to our everyday lives. As Christians, our motto should be “Deeds and words.” It is important for us study the Bible and listen to it preached and taught. And it is important for us to talk about our faith with other believers and to share it humbly with non-Christians. But we also need to put our beliefs into action. We don’t want to be people who read or hear God’s Word and then ignore the voice of the Spirit applying it to our lives. James says such foolishness is like people looking into a mirror but then forgetting their own faces! Can you imagine seeing crazy hair or dirty skin in the mirror in the morning but then not using a brush or washcloth to fix the problem? It would be ridiculous! In the same way, if we know that God’s Word has spoken to an area of sin in our lives that we need to repent of, or guided us to an action that we need to take, and then we don’t obey God’s voice, we are acting like fools. The wise person listens carefully to what God’s Word has to say and then does it. Such people find the joys and blessings of faithfully following Christ. Don’t you want to be a wise and blessed person today? May all lead lives filled with deeds of faith that back up our words of faith.
The Text (James 1:22-26)
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.
Questions to Think About
- How do careful listeners act during church and chapel messages, homeroom devotions, and Bible class lessons? Are you a careful listener? Why or why not?
- In what ways has God’s Word spoken to you in the past month? Can you think of any specific areas of sin that God’s Word has convicted you to repent of? Can you think of any specific commands that God’s Word challenged you to obey? Explain.
- Are there any areas of life where your deeds do not match your words right now? How can you make changes to get your talk to back up your walk in those areas?