2 Chronicles 15-16
“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” —James 1:22
There are two problems we can have when we read Scripture. One is a mental problem, where we simply do not understand what the text really means. Thankfully, we have a personal relationship with the ultimate author and authority behind Scripture, God Himself, and we can ask Him in prayer for help interpreting those passages we struggle to understand.
The second problem is a volitional one. The issue is best summarized by famous American author Mark Twain: “It ain’t the parts of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me; it is the parts that I do understand.” British author and evangelist Alan Redpath puts it a different way: the biggest need for Christians is not to know more but to do what they already know. The issue here is not whether we can repeat what Scripture says, like on a theological examination. We can hear the Word on a Sunday morning and take notes on it, or we can read the Word and underline the bits we like, but the volitional problem comes when we go out and do nothing about what we have heard or read.
The solution to this volitional problem is also the best summary of the book of James: “Just do it!” James expands on the opening verse: “Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 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” (1:23-25).
As Christians, sometimes all these “do’s” make us uncomfortable. It is true that we receive salvation entirely by our faith in the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, but Scripture, and especially James, makes it clear that our actions also matter. As Jesus said, “Every good tree bears good fruit...” (Matthew 7:17). It is in our actions that others will see the reality of the transformative presence and work of Christ in us.
Over the next month, we will look more closely in these devotionals at how to apply James’ theme of “Just do it” in our lives. We will consider how faith and action interact when it comes to trials, temptations, discrimination, money, our words, our struggles with the evil one and even the end of our lives. Throughout this study, may our prayer be that the Spirit will not only help us understand the Word but also move us by His power to “do what it says.”
Prayer: Lord God, thank You for Your Spirit, who is both the best interpreter of Scripture and the one who enables me to live it out. Help me to do what the Word says.