How else does James say we can be blessed by the Bible? #2. REFLECT ON THE WORD OF GOD
v. 23 “Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and after looking at himself immediately goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.” James uses an illustration here. God’s word is like a mirror. The purpose of a mirror is to evaluate us. We use them to evaluate ourselves. We look in a mirror to assess the damage from the night before. Then we do something about it. What good is a mirror if we don’t do anything about what we see? God says a mirror reflects what we’re like on the outside. God’s word reflects what we’re like on the inside.
Have you ever seen yourself in the Bible? Hebrews says, “God’s word detects the thoughts, intents, motives and desires of the heart.” James gives us three practical ways to reflect on the word of God,
1. Read it daily. v. 25 “the man who looks intently into the perfect law”. He’s actually talking more about research that he is reading. Investigating. The word “look” in Greek means “to stoop down and gaze in”. It’s the word used when Peter went to the tomb on resurrection Sunday when he stooped down and peeked in. He investigated. Focus your attention on the word of God. Look at the details. James says we need to receive the word of God and then reflect on it, first by reading it and second by reviewing it.
2. Review it. v. 25 “…and continues to do so…” That means over and over and over. The Bible calls this meditation. When you think about something over and over, it’s meditation. Meditation is not, put your mind in neutral and contemplate lint in your navel. Meditation means to think seriously about something over and over. If you know how to worry, you can meditate. Take a negative idea and think about it over and over, and it’s called worry. Take God’s word and think about it over and over, and it’s called meditation. The Bible says, “Meditate on God’s word”. Jesus said, “…if you continue in My word, then you’re truly My disciples.” Read it and review it.
Psalm 119:97 says, “I meditate on your word all day long.” Read it and review it continually. Stay in it and be faithful to the book. I know some people that are more faithful to Ann Landers or the sports page than they are to God’s word. How many of you believe everything you read in the newspaper or watch on TV? Then why do we spend more time reading or watching something we don’t believe than something we do?
We need to fill our minds with the word of God. James says, “You want to be blessed? Reflect on the word. Think about it by reading it and reviewing it.”
3. Remembering it. v. 25 “… not forgetting what he has heard.” Nothing will do more for your spiritual life than developing the habit of memorizing Scripture. Nothing will benefit your personal spiritual life more than developing the habit of memorizing Scripture. Psalm 119: 9-11 says, “Thy word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against Thee.” Memorize God’s word if you want to be blessed by it. We remember what’s important to us.
The United States Air Force did a study and found that we forget 95% of what we hear within 72 hours. This statistic depresses a pastor. I spend all week preparing a message to give on Sunday. By Wednesday you’ve forgotten 95% of what I’ve said unless you’ve written it down. James says, “Receive God’s word with the right attitude, reflect on God’s word by reading it, reviewing it, remembering it.” But even that’s not enough.
#3. I MUST RESPOND TO THE WORD OF GOD
I must do something about it, act on it, live it, practice it. vs. 22 “Do not merely listen to what the word says and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” Practice. What good is a mirror if you look at it and don’t do anything about it? The word “listen” in Greek is the word for “auditor”. If you audited a class in college you didn’t take it for credit, no tests, no responsibility, no research. You were totally relaxed. You just listened, you didn’t have any intention of applying it. We have a lot of auditors in the church. They come to church, walk in, hear the word of God, walk out with no intention of ever being changed. I have know lots of folks like this over the years. They took notes, wrote things down, but it never changed them. We must respond to God’s word, let it change us if we’re going to be blessed by it.
James says it’s self-deception when we don’t let it change us. We think that just gaining content is making us spiritually mature. The test of maturity is not knowledge. The test of maturity is character. A lot of people have great Bible knowledge and they are spiritual midgets. I need to practice it, apply it, put it in my life.
And knowledge increases responsibility. The more we know the more we’re accountable for. What am I doing about what I know? Jesus said, “To whom much is given, much is required.” And James said, “To him who knows to do good and doesn’t do it, it’s sin.” That is what James is saying. He’s saying, “If you want to be blessed, you’ve got to live the word of God, not just hear it. Not just know it.
I heard about the guy who came to church late. He walked in just as the service was completing. He said to an usher, “Is the sermon done, yet?” The usher was wise and said, “The sermon has been preached, but it is yet to be done.” Be ye doers of the word, don’t merely listen. Put it into practice.
Jesus said John 13:17, “Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”That is genuine Christianity. James is saying that the blessing of the Bible comes when we start living it.