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.
You might not know...
When James was writing this, the church was being persecuted and many people were going through hardships and he inspired them to gain wisdom from their situation by being obedient.
What does it say?
This passage talks about two big issues that Christians still deal with today: what to do about anger and evil, and what to do about what we hear in church and from the Bible.
What does it mean?
What we think we're supposed to do in so many situations just isn't the best thing to do. When we're compelled by a situation to immediately get angry, that’s exactly what not to do.
Similarly, sometimes we think that our Bible is just meant to be read. Reading the Bible is obviously a very good thing, but we’re missing the point and maybe not actually listening if we don’t make an effort to let it change us.
What does it mean to me?
Understanding what I read in the Bible or hear in Church does not come from just more and more reading and listening, it is a product of both hearing AND doing. The Bible can still be hard to understand, but when I attempt to live out what the Bible says about loving God and loving others, the words in the Bible become less confusing. All it takes is to listen in church and to read the Bible in such a way that we respond with action - to be a hearer and a doer.