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.
26 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. 27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
Commentary & Questions
Right before this passage, James was talking about how trials can help us in our life and lead to perseverance. He piggybacks on that idea in this passage explaining how we should act during trials. “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” If we become angry during trials we are not growing closer to God. We need to trust in God and listen to what he has for us (Philippians 2:14-15, Proverbs 10:19). He ultimately tells us to get rid of all evil in our life, which can only happen by reading the word of God (Romans 8:13).
In what ways have you made efforts to listen to God’s voice in the face of trials?
How often do you go to God’s word for guidance in tough situations?
Reading the word without doing what it says is worthless (Matthew 7:21). This is a major call to Christians to do what the Bible says and listen to God’s will whole heatedly, soaking in every word that is read (Joshua 1:8). Obedience to God is the key in this whole passage. James wants us to thoroughly read the word of God and act on it rather than just glancing at it. If we do so, we will be blessed for following God’s good and perfect will (John 8:31-32).
When you read the word of God, are you obedient towards what it says?
What are ways that you can remind yourself to follow God’s word?
Religion means nothing without being a changed person (James 2:14-17). If you act like everyone else who is not religious, saying the things that they say and doing the things that they do, your religion has not really changed you. We are called to a higher echelon in the way we act and what we say (1st John 2:15-17). If we can look after those who are truly in need, we will be following what God wants us to do. The best way to express our spiritually obedience to God is to make sure every word coming out of our mouth is of God’s will. As James says later, our tongues should praise the Lord, not curse our brothers and sisters (James 3:3-10).
Do the things you say line up with what God has for you?
In what areas of your life do you need better tongue control?
Take what this passage says word for word. It will be true today, tomorrow, and forever.
Devotional Author: Doug Hawthorne