Sunday, August 26, 2012


22 But-obey the message; be doers of the Word, and not merely listeners to it, betraying yourselves [into deception by reasoning contrary to the Truth].
23 For if any one only listens to the Word without obeying it and being a doer of it, he is like a man who looks carefully at his [own] natural face in a mirror;
24 For he thoughtfully observes himself, then goes off and promptly forgets what he was like.
25 But he who looks carefully into the faultless law, the [law] of liberty, and is faithful to it and perserveres in looking into it, being not a heedless listener who forgets, but an active doer [who obeys], he shall be blessed in his doing-in his life of obedience. (James 1:22-25). [Amplified Bible].

The Practice of the Word.

22 The author next discusses putting the Word into practice. It is not enought merely to "listen to the word" or, by the same token, merely to read it. Those who congratulate themselves on being hearers of the truth are deceiving themselves. If they assume that this is all that is needed to earn them a position of special favor with God, they are sadly mistaken. In reality, the responsibilty of those who hear is far greater than those who have never heard. If they do not combine doing with hearing, they put themselves in a most vulnerable position. The call to "do what it says" lies at the center of all that James teaches and sums up the whole book: Put into practice what you profess to believe.

23-24 The author proceeds to explain why people should do more than merely listen to the truth, using the illustration of a man who "looks at his face in a mirror." "Looks at" means careful observation; the man carefully studies his face and becomes thoroughly familiar with its features. Those who listen to the Word do so attentively and at length, so that they understand what they hear. They know what God expects them to do. Any failure to respond cannot be blamed on lack of understanding.
      James further explains that upon going away, the man "immediately forgets what he looks like." For him it is "out of sight, out of mind." This is, of course, is ludicrous, but no less ludicrous are believers who listen carefully to God's truth and do not remember to put into practice what they have heard. Listening to truth is not an end in itself any more than gazing at one's face in a mirror is an end in itself. The purpose of listening to truth is to act upon it. Theoretical knowledge of spiritual truth is never commended in Scripture. Knowledge is inseperably tied to experience. Believers gain knowledge through experience, and such knowledge is intended to affect subsequent experience.

25 In contrast to those who listen to the Word but do not do what it says, James now describes one who both listens and puts into practice what has been heard. "He will be blessed in what he does." The reason for this blessing is fourfold. (1) He "looks intently" into God's truth, a verb that described John's act of stooping and peering into the tomb of Jesus (John 20:5). Here it is as though a person stoops over the Scripture, zealously searching for its message. (2) "He continues to do this." He is the blessed man of Psalm 1 who meditates on God's law day and night. (3) He does not forget "what he has heard." (4) Most important, he puts the truth into practice.
     James's term "the perfect law of liberty" (literal translation) deserves special attention. The word :law" reveals his Jewish orientation and that of his readers. But he qualifies this word to make sure that his readers do not misunderstand, describing it as "perfect" and as characterized by "fredom". It is not merely the OT law, nor is it the Mosaic law perverted to become a legalistic system for earning salvation by good works. When James calls it the "perfect law," he has in mind the sum total of God's revealed truth-not merely the preliminary portion found in the OT, but also the final revelation made through Christ and his apostles that was soon to be inscripturated in the NT. Thus it is complete, in contrast to that which is preliminary and preparatory. Furthermore, it is a law that does not enslave. Instead, it is freely accepted and fulfilled with glad devotion under the enablement of the Spirit of God (Galatians 5:22-23).
[NIV BIBLE COMMENTARY Volume 2: New Testament].



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