James 1:19-27: Hear and Obey

Devotionals > New Testament > James > James 1:19-27: Hear and Obey

James 1:19-27: Hear and Obey

October 3, 2023


Jeremiah 5-6Ecclesiastes 2:17-26John 1:29-34James 1:19-27

James 1:19-27:

It is so easy to speak too much – and listen too little. Here James is giving us practical instruction about how (and why) to listen, as well as how (and why) to speak.

First, Christians of all people are to be quick to listen and slow to speak and especially slow to become angry. Yet we live in a time when there is much anger and disgust on display about every latest piece of news or item of cultural and social change. There is a righteous anger, but mere human anger does not produce the righteousness of God. Even if anger is right as an emotion, it is always a dangerous emotion and can easily lead to sin. Instead, humbly accept the word that is planted in us that can save us. Do you see the picture? Christians are not to be constantly ranting and railing, but instead humbly listening to God and his word.

But, second, James now needs to fill out the picture of what it means to listen. We are not merely to listen. We are to do what the Word says. Mere passivity is not true attention to God’s Word. The one who truly listens to God’s Word will be changed by that Word. Just like there’s no point looking in a mirror and then doing nothing about what you see, so there is no point looking into the Bible and then not doing anything about what it shows you about your life. But instead, if we look carefully into the Bible and then do what it says, we will be blessed by doing what we are told in God’s Word to do. There is a blessing – a joy, a peace, a sense of being in the right place at the right time under God’s righteous rule – that comes with obedience. “Trust and obey, for there is no other way to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey.”

And then third, James returns again to the issue of speech or the tongue. How can we think of ourselves as spiritual if our speech is wrong or nasty or gossipy or swear-y? Instead, real “religion” – real faith in God – leads to real works. We look after orphans and widows, as well as keeping ourselves from becoming corrupted and unholy.

In short, true faith in God causes us to listen carefully to God, and that causes us to obey God in practical ways. May we too not only hear but also obey.


Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.


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