Responding to God’s Word
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. – James 1:22–25
I once heard a preacher who, prior to reading the main text of Scripture of the is sermon, would make the following statement:
“Every time we open God’s Word, we are looking at the mind of God. Let’s see what God is thinking”.
God the Father has made Himself to us through His Son Jesus (John 1:1). We learn of the Son of God through the written Word of God (2 Timothy 3:14-15). And because we have these true and profitable words from God, we know exactly who God is and what he desires for us (2 Timothy 3:16-17). When we open the Bible, we are reading about the Author and Finisher of our faith. Here’s what Peter states,
Knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. – 2 Peter 1:20–21
The Holy Spirit used men to record exactly what God intended to say. Which means we should take seriously what is said within the pages of Scripture. It is not man that is speaking, but God. And when God speaks, we must listen.
But listening is not all that is required of us. Listening to God’s Word, whether it is in our own reading and studying or if it’s sitting in a Bible based sermon, requires a response. James writes the verses above to tell us not to be just a hearer, but to be a doer of the Word as well.
In other words, God’s Word calls for a response.
Parents understand what James is saying far too well. We ask our kids to do something and more often than not, we need to repeat it a few times. We’re training them to obey right away. We often ask them, “Did you hear me?” And they’ll respond with “Yes” and we sit and wonder why they haven’t done what we have asked them to do! This is simply disobedience. To hear something from an authority and not to do it is to disobey the authority.
Because the Scripture is our authority, then when we disobey Scripture, we are disobeying God. We are implying that what He says is not important enough to follow, that we prefer to do our own thing, or that His authority does not matter to us.
When we hear God speak, we respond in obedience.
The Bible shows us how to live holy. It exposes our sin and brings us to the light of God’s grace. Just like a mirror shows us who we are, so does God’s Word. We would be fools to hear and not respond to what God’s Word says to us. We would be fools to disobey the good and gracious words from God.
Here are three helpful questions for the next time you read Scripture or after the sermon on Sunday that will help you respond to what you have heard.
1. From the text, what is something you learned about God? About yourself?
2. What Scriptural truth(s) from the text is the Holy Spirit pressing on your heart?
3. If you were to incorporate this truth in your own life, how would the next week and next month be different?
These questions help us read the text for what it says and then act on what it says. We respond to God’s Word because we know God’s Word to be true and good. And when we obey the words of our Father, it produces within us a peace and joy that frees us to continue living in obedience to the One who saved us.
By His Grace,