Wednesday 13 November 2013

Bible Book:

“be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves” (v. 22)

James 1:19-27 Wednesday 13 November 2013


Verse 22 is the key to this passage of the letter, which isabout putting God's word into practice.

James begins this section of the letter with somestraightforward advice. It is possible here that he is addressingsome real situations in church life. In view of James3:1 ("Not many of you should become teachers"), it may be thatsome have been too quick to give others the benefit of theiradvice. Perhaps too, the effects of uncontrolled anger have beenfelt within the Christian community, and he is saying that this isnot appropriate behaviour for those who seek to promote therighteousness (or justice) of God. On the other hand, there isrighteous anger, which is different to irritation which spills overinto harsh words. Discerning the appropriate expression ofrighteous anger requires the wisdom which James describes as a giftof God (James 1:5).

James continues with an exhortation to get rid of every kind ofsin in order to be a fertile ground for transformation (verse 21).Acceptance of God's message is only complete when it is acted uponand lived by. Hearing is not enough.

In verses 23-25, James offers an illustration which seems to dothe opposite of clarifying his message. Greek philosophers thoughtof a mirror as a method of self-improvement. If we see our realselves in the mirror, we can be stimulated to make changes to ourlives. Thus the Christian is to look at the "perfect law", ie thegospel, and be moved to action.

James ends the chapter with advice about careless talk, a themethat he has already touched on (verse 19) will return to inchapters 3 and 4. Whilst not attempting to summarise all that truereligion should include, he emphasises caring for the vulnerable,represented by widows and orphans (verse 27). Finally, he warns hisreaders not to so absorb the standards of the world around themthat they fail to live by God's standards.

To Ponder

  • Do you think that there is a place in life for righteous anger?If so, against what should such anger be directed?
  • How do you put your faith into action in your daily life?
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