World English Bible translation
1:19So, then, my beloved brothers, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger; 1:20 for the anger of man doesn't produce the righteousness of God. 1:21 Therefore, putting away all filthiness and overflowing of wickedness, receive with humility the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. 1:22 But be doers of the word, and not only hearers, deluding your own selves. 1:23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man beholding his natural face in a mirror; 1:24 for he sees himself, and goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 1:25 But he who looks into the perfect law, the law of freedom, and continues, not being a hearer who forgets but a doer of the work, this man will be blessed in what he does.
James has written that we count our temptations and trials as joy. When we withstand our temptations, we learn patience and endurance. Endurance leads to being whole, complete and righteous before God. Temptations do not, however, come from God. Rather, temptations come from the evil and sin and are within us. When we allow the evil within our hearts to reign, the lust in our hearts leads to sin and sin leads to death. But, through Christ, God gives us a new life, a new seed to grow within us. If we trust in God, the new life will grow within us and eventually take over every part of our lives.
Because God is growing something new within us, we should be quick to hear, always listening for the word of God. We should be slow to speak because our words flow out of what is in our hearts. If our hearts are full of evil, our words will be evil. If our hearts are filled with truth, out words will be true. In the same way, let every man be slow to anger, in showing anger we demonstrate the condition of our inner spiritual lives.
Therefore we should avoid the wickedness and sin that is in our hearts and concentrate on receiving the word that God has implanted in us. We should accept this gift by faith, never doubting that the Father of lights will give us His gifts when they are needed. But, to only hear the word is not enough. If we believe that God gives us this truth when we need it, then if we believe, we must act on the word when we receive it. To fail to act is to doubt and to reject the implanted word of truth. To such a man the word will be of no effect, just as a seed that is tossed upon the soil that fails to take root.
When we hear the word of God and do it, we demonstrate our faith. James writes that the man who hears the word and does not act on it is like a man who looks in a mirror and then forgets what he looks like later. Now, mirrors in James' time were not like the mirrors are today. The best mirror that the common man could afford was a piece of polished bronze. James compares the man who forgets his own countenance with a man that looks into a perfect mirror. The image is so startling, at least it would have been in James' day, that the one who saw himself could have never forgotten the image.
God's law, the law of freedom that He writes on our heart, is the perfect law that shows us exactly who we are. The man who sees himself in this mirror is blessed. God not only shows him an image of what he is, but also an image of what he can be in Christ. In effect, we see ourselves as God sees us. God sees all of our sin. Nothing is hidden from His eyes. But, in Christ, God sees us cleansed of that sin. In Christ we are made whole. We become the righteousness of God.
So, the man who hears the implanted word is the man who sees himself as God sees him. This is the man, or woman, that will be blessed in Christ. To hear the word and act on it is the essence of faith. Through this implanted word, God is able to bring about that which we so desperately desire the saving of our souls.
God is showing you who you are and what you can be in Christ. Are you willing to see what God is willing to show?
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