James believes that real faith is transformational. In this well known passage, James insists that the source of that transformation is the Word of God, which operates in so many different ways in our lives. First, the Word of God is a power that makes us new. “He gives us birth through the word of truth,” (1:18), bringing existential renewal into the heart of the believer as we encounter the gospel. Then, the Word of God continues to be a source of ongoing change. This change comes through first hearing the Word of God, accepting that the Word of God is our new authority, “the perfect law that brings freedom” (v.25). The person who desires transformation will make great efforts to study, learn and understand what the Word is teaching. But the transformation process can’t stop there. Our hearing must then issue forth into doing- that we are those who— after listening— actually do what the Word says. The community of Jesus are not just those are full of right thinking, but right doing.
As you prepare for worship this week, reflect on some ways that God has used his Word to bring conviction, challenge and change to your life. Pray that God would freshly move us as a church to be people of the Word.
Looking for a guide to help you study the Bible so we become hearers and doers of the word? We’ve created a short guide to get you started!
18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.
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.