James 1:25 But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it – he will be blessed in what he does.
Verse 22 of this chapter is quite famous, (“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”) but this one perhaps supplies a little more motivation. Many people treat the Bible as a good luck charm, thinking that just having it near them will protect them from evil and/or bring them good. That simply doesn’t work. It is when we pay enough attention to the Word to allow it to soak into us that we become “doers of the Word.” I was talking with a psychologist friend recently and he was telling me what he had just been teaching in a class in the school where we both teach. The lesson that day was on the mechanisms of memory, and how things move from our sensory impressions to our short-term memory to our long-term memory. Many people never let the Bible get past the sensory impression stage! However, it is when we allow it to work into us that we both do what it says and enjoy its benefits. I often remember something my seminary professor grandfather used to ask his students: “How big is your Bible?” They would generally insist that it was the same size as his, if not larger, but then he would correct their misunderstanding, and say that he was talking about how much of the Bible was actually in their heart. If we try to “do” the Bible without letting it work into our hearts, correcting and transforming us, we will fail miserably. However, if we will let it work into us fully, we will indeed be blessed in all we do, as this verse says.
My life is something of a case study in this. I first read through the Bible by age 10, so I quickly had quite a knowledge of the Bible, but that’s not what James is talking about here. I was “acquiring the Bible,” so to speak, but I wasn’t letting it transform me. I became quite an expert at deceiving myself! The Lord has had to break down my pride, intellectual and otherwise, in various ways so that I would receive the Word into my soul and spirit the way a baby receives milk. (1 Peter 2:2) As I did that, my knowledge of the Bible shifted to knowing the Bible, and most especially, knowing the Lord of the Bible. I still have plenty of room to grow, because the Bible, and certainly the Lord, are limitless, but I can say without hesitation that this is the way of blessing, and I recommend it to everyone.
Father, thank You for Your grace toward me. Thank You for the richness of Your Word, and for the privilege of sharing it with others. Help me share it from my heart, and not as some external rule book. May Your Word in and through me accomplish everything for which You have sent it, (Isaiah 55:11) for the salvation of many and for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!