Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 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.
One of my very favorite verses in all of the Scriptures is verse 22, and I can’t help but notice that it’s almost never quoted outside of a study of James; not even by me! I really love this verse because it just brushes past all the arguments and excuses and comes right down to the bottom line: Do what it says!
We aren’t just to read the Word, we’re supposed to follow the Word, just like we aren’t just supposed to be in Christ, we are supposed to follow Him. So simple, yet so seldom done. If we just read it, we deceive ourselves because we get the idea that everything is great, after all, I read my Bible today. Then what do we do, go out and do what everybody else does? In the immortal words of Chef Gordon Ramsey, “That’s not good enough!”
James follows with an interesting illustration, that of someone looking into a mirror, seeing their face and then forgetting what they looked like. Hearing the Word and not following it is pretty much a waste, for we are to put it into effect in our lives. Even better, James tells us exactly what he means.
We are to gaze at the “perfect law that gives freedom” intently, and then act accordingly. To fully comprehend James’ instruction, all we need to do is to know what he means by “perfect law that gives freedom.” I think Jesus can help us out here:
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
James is talking about putting our love of God and of one another into action; if we do we will be blessed in everything that we do. What a simply amazing little passage, so simple, so clear.
What holds us back?