More Than Listening

“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.” James 1:22-24 NLT

I recently had a physical. The doctor made some recommendations for my well-being. I listened attentively. Every one of the doctors’ recommendations made good sense to me.

Imagine if I walked out of the doctor’s office sharing this: The doctor gave me a good set of recommendations for continuing good health. I am not planning to do anything, but I like the recommendations. Nicely done!

What a ridiculous response! 

These recommendations for continuing good health will only have value if I act on them. There is real work and effort required to act upon recommendations. And often it takes making a lasting change to one’s lifestyle.

May I share with kind boldness, this is what far too many of us do with God’s word.  We read it as meaningful recommendations on how to flourish in a tough world. We gladly share what we have read with those around us and that’s as far as it goes.

The power of experiencing the truth of God’s word is acting upon it, by doing what it says. It does take some real effort to do this. Be assured, it will challenge anyone and everyone to participate in the fullness of the relationship and life God intends for us. 

Consider this question for 2024:  What am I willing to do in response to God’s life-changing word?

The Apostle James is spot on when he says that following Jesus is more than listening. It is doing what He says, as laid out for us in Scripture.

Thankfully, the Holy Spirit is here to help us with the effort needed to move from listening to doing what we have been told to do.

Next Steps

1. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you take obedient action to a biblical truth you have listened to recently.
2. Be honest with the effort that it takes you to do this. Make note of the changes that may be required of you. 
3. Give God thanks for the opportunity to do this with His help.
4. Don’t give up if you have some setbacks and failures along the way (because you will).
5. Repeat steps 1-3 over and over. 

– Ed McDowell, C.E.O. Warm Beach Camp Ministries