But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. — JAMES 1:22
Listening to God is vital for every believer to have a growing relationship with Him. As important as that is, listening is not enough. God isn’t just looking for listeners; He’s looking for people who listen to His voice and act on what they hear.
Jesus said, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me,” (John 10.27 NIV). Jesus wants listeners and followers. To listen to God and never act on what you hear would be the ultimate act of disobedience. Imagine a parent telling a child something important to do. The child makes eye contact, hears every word, but then refuses to do it. That is how God sees us when we listen but don’t act.
James warned us not to fall into the “listening only” trap: “But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it,” (James 1.22-25 NLT).
According to James, when we listen but don’t act, we are just deceiving ourselves. We think we are pleasing God simply because we listen, when in fact we are disobeying Him. There are many people who sit in church or read their Bibles but have no intention of living out what Jesus is calling them to do. Soon their hearts are hard toward God. They are religious but rebellious. (Hebrews 3.15 NIV) warns us, “Today if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.”
There is an old saying: “The same sun that melts the wax hardens the clay.” God speaks to us through His Word, and if our hearts are ready and eager to obey, that Word melts our hearts and makes us pliable and useful to God. He can shape us into His image and transform us from the inside out.
But if our hearts are stubborn and rebellious, refusing to do what He has said, that same Word hardens our hearts. Our hard hearts keep us from knowing God or being used by Him. James is saying, “Don’t be rebellious toward God and harden your heart; listen and do what He says.”
Think and pray
What does your to-do list look like for this week? Think through the instructions we have in scripture and put them into practice.
Lord, show me where I am not consistently living out my faith, and help me to live this day and the remainder of this week according to Your word. Amen.
Craig Etheredge is an author, Bible teacher and an ardent proponent of people coming to know and follow Jesus. Craig is the lead pastor at First Colleyville, the President and founder of DiscipleFirst Ministries, and the author of Morning Thrive, daily devotionals online. This post used by permission from discipleship.org.