“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”
– James 1:22 (ESV)
In the world of sports, thinking too highly of yourself is a dangerous road to travel. It’s an easy trap for athletes, coaches and teams to fall into. The media and fans often go over the top in their efforts to build up a particular game, player, coach or team. How often do we hear phrases like these? “This will be the game of the century.” “He is the best to ever play the game.” “They are the best team of all time.” We would agree that this kind of billing is hard to prove and even more difficult to live up to. Coaches spend a great deal of time warning their players to be careful in reading their own press clippings or paying too much attention to social media. Coaches too can get caught up in the hype. We can hear something so much that we start to believe it ourselves and forget to put in the work required to be successful. It’s so easy to deceive ourselves and the consequences aren’t pretty.
James, the half-brother of Jesus, does not sugarcoat the issue. He is talking about the same principle, but with much higher stakes. James believed in the power of God’s Word. He saw the Bible as in instrument of God that could not only lead to our salvation, but also save us a great deal of grief in this life. Like the wise coach, James warns that it’s not enough to simply hear the words of Scripture, we must obey and live them out. “It is not enough to receive the implanted word; we must obey it. There is no virtue in possessing the Bible or even in reading it as literature. There must be a deep desire to hear God speaking to us and an unquestioning willingness to do whatever He says. We must translate the Bible into action. The word must become flesh in our lives.” (Believer’s Bible Commentary, William MacDonald) Someone once said, “Impression without expression leads to depression.” Bottom line, it’s not about what others say or what we know, it’s about a changed life. That requires obedience, discipline, commitment and the power of the Holy Spirit.
Heavenly Father, thank you for your Word. Help me to take it from my ears to my heart so I can live it out today. Deliver me from the hype of this world. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.