These are my notes from a sermon series. It has not been proofed for spelling or grammatical errors. I present it to you as-is.
I want you to be the kind of person who reads the Word of God, understands it, applies it, and reaps the rewards of doing it. I want you to be blessed in your life. I want you to experience God’s blessings that come from obedience in your home, in your marriage, in your finances, at work, at school and where life takes you. James talks about this connection between God’s Word and our obedience to it that results in blessings.
James 1:22-25 says, “But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. 23 For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. 24 You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. 25 But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it” (NLT).
James gives us a great object lesson to help us understand how we are to approach God’s Word. The purpose of a mirror is to evaluate ourselves based on what we see. We use them to evaluate our appearance. If you are like most people you probably get up in the morning and when you look into the mirror you think things like…
- That person needs a lot of work
- You see hair that needs adjusting
- For men (and some women) you see that you need to shave your face or trim the beard
- You may see some nose hairs poking out and so you trim those
- While you are doing that you may notice something in your teeth. So you either brush or take them out and soak them
We look into the mirror for evaluation. This whole evaluation process with the mirror may take a while. We stand in front of the mirror the whole time. The mirror helps us to evaluate what we look like on the outside. In the same way the mirror helps us to evaluate how we look on the outside, God’s Word helps us evaluate what we look like on the inside. When you approach God’s Word correctly, it helps you see things about yourself that need attention.
So the question we need to answer today is, “How can you and I look into God’s Word, reflect on what we see and make necessary changes?” Through James, God gives us four things to consider. Four things that if you take these seriously will be transformational to your life. These are very basic and very practical. If genuine faith does something, then what does God want me to do?
God wants me to investigate His Word
First, God wants me to investigate His Word. Look closely at verse 25 where it says, “look carefully into the perfect law.” The phrase “look carefully into” is about research. James is talking about investigating. The word “look” means “to stoop down and gaze in.” Like when the disciples came to the empty tomb, the Bible tells us the stooped down and gazed in. They were investigating. It’s like when a child stoops down to get a closer look at a bug on the ground. We are being told to focus our attention on God’s Word. We are to stoop down and gaze into the Word of God and we are look carefully into God’s Word.
There are two ways to look at a mirror. You can gaze at it or you can glance at it. We’ve all done both. If you go into a store and walk pass the section where they have mirrors you probably will glance at what you look like. But if you go into a clothing store, try on some new clothes, you are trying to look better, you are more concerned about how you look… you will probably gaze into the mirror. Gazing with the idea of evaluating. How do I look from the front, side, back? If someone is with you, you might ask what do you think?
God wants you to stoop down and gaze in. He wants to you spend some time looking into His Word, thinking about it, looking carefully at how it applies to your life, to your relationships, and how you can begin doing it immediately.
God wants me to apply His Word
Number two, God wants me to apply His Word. Look at verse 25 again, “But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.” Look carefully at the phrase, “if you do what it says.” What does that really mean? Originally, God gave us James in the Greek language. There are times where we don’t see certain things in our English language that is present the Greek language. So various translations will try to catch the meaning of the Greek language. Let me give you some examples…
- The NIV Bible says it this way, “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.” To “continue in it” means you apply this more than once. This means you will apply it, apply it, apply it, and apply it again.
- The Christian Standard Bible describes it this way, “But the one who looks intently into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer who works—this person will be blessed in what he does.” To “persevere in it” is to continue applying God’s Word even when it gets difficult or when there is opposition.
- The New American Standard says, “But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.” The word abide means to accept it and to live by it.
So when James says, “do what it says” he has the idea of obeying it on a continual basis, persevering in applying God’s Word when it’s difficult for you and accept it by making it a part of your lifestyle and who you are.
So what does this look like throughout the week in your life? Let me give you some very practical examples.
- Colossians 3:23 says, “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people” (NLT). If you do what this says you will get up, go to work and determine to be the best employee you can be. You are going to work with a good attitude. You are not going to be lazy. You are going to try to get a good night sleep the night before so you can be alert and sharp and energetic. It doesn’t matter if your boss is mean, grumpy, or thankful… because in your heart and mind you are “working for the Lord” and that’s why you want to bring your best to work. When you look into the mirror of God’s Word it will reveal what areas about work you need to adjust.
- Proverbs 3:9 says, “Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the best part of everything you produce” (NLT). If you do what this says you will apply Biblical money management principles to your finances. God’s Word talks about having a budget, giving and tithing to the Lord, paying your bills, saving a little money, blessing others and being content with what you have. When you look into the mirror of God’s Word it will reveal what areas about your finances you to adjust.
- Colossians 3:13 says, “Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others” (NLT). If you do what this says you will forgive others. When you look into the mirror of God’s Word it will reveal who you need to forgive and let you know if you are holding onto any grudges, bitterness, or anger toward someone.
- Hebrews 10:24-25 says, “Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near” (NLT). If you do this you will you will make meeting with believers a priority.
These are things you will continually do. You will persevere in them. You will abide in them and they will become your lifestyle. The more you apply the Word of God the more you will experience the Word of God as a lifestyle.
God wants me to remember His Word
Number three, God wants you to remember His Word. Like the others, this is very basic but very important. Look at verse 25 again, “But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.” The opposite of forgetting is remembering. One of the best ways to remember something is to think about it for a while. God is constantly telling us to think. To think about what He says, how it applies, and to ask questions about what He says and to discover the answers. He wants us to think deeper than we normally do and to think more spiritually than we normally do.
For you to not “forget what you heard” from God and remember what He says. You will need to think and meditate on what God says. Let’s talk about this.
- Philippians 4:8 says, “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.9 Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you” (NLT). When you think about the right things and apply the right things God blesses you with His peace in your life regardless of what’s going on.
- Psalm 119:15-16 says, “I will study your commandments and reflect on your ways. 16 I will delight in your decrees and not forget your word” (NLT). When you study, reflect, and delight yourself in the Word of God you will find yourself remembering it.
- Psalm 119:97-99 says, “Oh, how I love your instructions! I think about them all day long. 98 Your commands make me wiser than my enemies, for they are my constant guide. 99 Yes, I have more insight than my teachers, for I am always thinking of your laws” (NLT). When you are loving God’s Word, thinking about how they apply to your life and relationships throughout the day and week and when you let them be your constant guide when it comes to relationships, parenting, finances, and problems you will find yourself remembering what God has said to you.
God wants you to remember His Word. He does not want you to forget what you have heard from him when the suffering starts, when the crisis occurs, and when the problems of life begin to dog pile you.
God wants me to be rewarded by His word
Number four, God wants you to be rewarded by His Word. Verse 25 says, “But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.” God does not tell us when that blessing comes or how it will come, but He does say He will bless you because you are applying His Word to your life. God’s Word does NOT say that if you give $1 then God will bless you with a $100. If you are kind, then you will be blessed by everyone being kind back to you. If you forgive others, then they will forgive you.
What God says is, if you do what I say I will make sure you are blessed in some way. That blessing may be financial, but maybe not. That blessing may be better health, but maybe not. That blessing may come in the form encouragement, less worry, less fear, more joy, deeper understanding, or higher level of influence. In some way, God is going to bless you for trusting Him and doing what He says.
Psalm 1 summarizes what I’ve been trying to say today. Psalm 1 says,
Oh, the joys of those who do not
follow the advice of the wicked,
or stand around with sinners,
or join in with mockers.
2 But they delight in the law of the Lord,
meditating on it day and night.
3 They are like trees planted along the riverbank,
bearing fruit each season.
Their leaves never wither,
and they prosper in all they do. (NLT)
That’s being blessed for doing what God says.
Joshua 1:8 put it this way, “Study this Book of Instruction continually. Mediate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do” (NLT).
Genuine faith does what God’s Word says and experiences the blessings from it. Faith says God is right, but faith also says I’m going to do what He says. Genuine faith believes God is right and is willingly to change to do what is right based on God’s Word.