Move past merley listening

Move past merley listening

“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”

twin command

This direct and unambiguous directive was delivered by James, the half-brother of Jesus. There are twin commands to obey. First, stated negatively, we must not simply “listen to the word.” Second, expressed in the positive, we must “do what it says.”

Do you live in obedience to Scripture? Do you strive to obey the instruction and directives of the Bible? It is possible read the Bible daily, learning much about the Bible, yet experience little transformation because we fail to do what the Bible says. 

What is Your Tendency

Over the last thirty years I have encountered many who fully embrace each and every word regarding God’s gift of salvation while holding the difficult challenges and directives of Scripture at arm’s length. Far too often I have seen in many, myself included, the natural human tendency to listen to but not obey the word. 

  • Are you committed to building healthy relationships? “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone (Romans 12:18).”
  • Do your confront wrongs committed within the church and then extend grace and forgiveness? Jesus said, “If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them (Luke 17:3-4).”
  • Do you guard against bitterness? “See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many (Hebrews 12:15).”
  • Does Jesus’ love for you fuel your own love of others? “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another (John 13:34.
  • Do you choose your words carefully so as to positively impact others? “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen (Ephesians 4:29).”
  • Do you respond to anxiety with prayer? “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God (Philippians 4:6).”
  • Do you push back against self-centeredness? “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you (Romans 12:3).”
  • Do you strive to live your life guided by the Holy Spirit? “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit (Galatians 5:25).”
  • Is prayer a priority in your life? “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people (Ephesians 6:18).”

These examples from Scripture are surely sufficient to remind us of the many commands that must be obeyed. We have no other choice if we call ourselves “followers of Jesus.” 

So many of our strained or broken relationships – so many of our personal missteps in this journey with Jesus – could be avoided or rectified if we simply moved past merely listening to the word and instead do what it says. 

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