James: Day 2

Both Hearing and Doing

by

Today's Text: James 1:19-27, Proverbs 10:19, Ephesians 4:26-27, Romans 5:20

Scripture Reading: James 1:19-27, Proverbs 10:19, Ephesians 4:26-27, Romans 5:20

I’ve always been a little uncomfortable while getting my hair cut. Perhaps it’s my nervousness that I’ve directed my stylist the wrong way, or that the color we picked won’t work at all with my skin tone. But beyond the anxiety that comes from letting someone else take control for a few hours, there’s a measured amount of discomfort that comes from looking at myself in the mirror for that long.

Every blemish seems to glow under the lights of my local salon. My eyebrows seem significantly more unruly than I thought they had become, and the makeup I had so carefully applied hours ago has mostly melted away, revealing the oh-so-telling dark circles under my very tired eyes.

And yet when I leave, somehow I always feel so much better. I’ve been transformed—or at least my hair has.

It is transformation and the confidence that comes with it that James is urging us to seek through the reading of the Word. Of course, it’s much less superficial and quite a bit harder than sitting in a salon chair. James tells us that when we hear the Word of God and don’t act, then we are just like a man sitting in front of a mirror, seeing all his blemishes and yet walking away without caring, without doing anything.

If looking in the mirror is hard, looking deep into the Word of God is harder— especially when reading James’s words. They reflect back to me my own anger, my quickness to speak, my moral failures, my pride.

But being transformed by the Word means becoming a doer, not just a hearer. It means inviting the Holy Spirit to carve out those ugly places and fill them with the righteousness that Jesus gives, so that I might live out what James calls a “pure and undefiled religion” (1:27). The Word becomes more than a book to me; it is a means of grace, a tool of the Spirit’s sanctifying work in my heart.

Jesus said it this way:

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.  And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.  And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”
- Matthew 7:24-27

Jesus is the Word made flesh, sent to dwell among us. We are called to look daily not into a mirror, but into the Word—into the very face of Jesus.

The gospel-filled life Christ calls us to is not one full of quick and angry words, self-serving pride, or self-sufficiency, but of sacrificial love and humility. We are called to let the Word do its work inside us—to read it daily with fresh eyes as it, by the Holy Spirit, reads our hearts and transforms us, making us more and more like Jesus.

SRT-James-instagram2

Melanie Rainer is the director of content for JellyTelly, where she writes and edits family spiritual formation resources. She is a graduate of Covenant Theological Seminary, a passionate home baker, and makes her always-messy home with her husband, Price, and their delightful daughter, Ellie, near historic downtown Franklin, Tennessee.

  • I have read this passage so many times, and every time I read it I am convicted. Applying God’s Word is what will transform my testimony and will allow God to bring blessing into my life. I’m also challenged by verse 26…I don’t want to deceive my own heart, I need to be aware of what comes out of my mouth at all times.

  • Rachel Rogers

    I am so glad that the Holy Spirit transforms me and it’s not just up to me! I fall short in so many ways! I speak too quickly or get angry and let that anger control me but I am reminded as I read His word that there is grace for me and I welcome the sweet conviction of the Holy Spirit. I am thankful for the mirror of God’s word that doesn’t just reflect my faults but leads me by grace to repentance and true forgiveness. I am learning to not speak so quickly. Just this week I started writing down my thoughts and desires in a small journal instead of acting too quickly on them. I am relying on the Lord to walk me through this process of waiting on Him.

  • Realizing I cannot do these commands in James without the daily tap into Jesus to calm my type A, achiever spirit. This drive in my flesh can only be channeled for Him by Him.

  • Lindsay Mathews

    wow, the timing on this for me is huge. I feel some significant prompting. what really struck me was leaving space for the Spirit to “carve” out and do work in my heart and pushing away any sense of self sufficiency or self righteousness. it is so true, when I start to use a lot of words, it is often because I am justifying myself or my actions. quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger. thank you, Lord.

  • realizing just how much Jesus needs to carve out my ugly places, so I can be more like Him! Life is hard and it comes at you fast, and we can pull away from Him oh so easily. Yet he always always opens His arms up to us– & for that I am forever grateful.

  • As we read the Word, it “reads our hearts and transforms us.” Love.

  • “Looking into the Word of God is looking directly in the Face of Jesus” …. SO GOOD!

  • Mariah Munoz

    ❤️

  • Maria Barhams

    Really struggling in this area now. Overwhelmed with everything which always makes it harder to draw near to God, His Word, etc. because it highlights all my flaws. Makes me have to feel the feels. But I am happy that my God loves me enough to correct me.

  • Always a fantastic reminder to find the Grace in your soul and to find a place of calm and stillness. Not feeding into the anger and remembering that we have the power to change our reactions and mental processes. Grace wins. Love conquers.

  • Such a great reminder and so pertinent to me today after a day of being tired and grumpy yesterday! I have also been reading Triggers- about exchanging our angry reactions as parents for biblical reactions.

  • Apparently this subject has been a lesson I have needed to learn over and over, because every verse for reading today, I had highlighted a long time ago (usually the only verse highlighted on the whole page). It was all just as powerful for me this time around.

  • Yesterday I was listening to a podcast called Adam’s Rib (seriously ladies look it up if you need an encouraging word in your ear!). They were talking about this very thing, the unbridled tongue and how we as women especially use ours to cut others apart when we are angry, often blaming our nature or our upbringing or justifying it by saying it’s just “how our family is”. But that really, what’s going on under the surface, is HURT. We don’t start out this menacing, but as the hurts and disappointments in life stack up, our mouths become an outpouring of what our hearts are feeling; and for those of us prone to flying off the handle at others, it’s likely coming from some unresolved feelings and hurts inside OF US. So God I ask that You, in your great love for every woman here, would heal the hurts that run so deep in our hearts, the ones that bubble to the surface and spew bile when we are angry! Reach deep into our hearts and resolve the things that eat us up inside, ridding us of all bitterness and resentment. We know all our unresolved issues find their absolute satisfaction in you — and you don’t step outside of LOVE to accomplish anything! So please help us live the christian life in this way: that by our love for You and our guarded tongues your Son would be glorified in all of our relationships. Make us quick to listen and slow to speak, because we have our hearts centered on You, healer of all hurts. We love you. We thank you. We can’t do it without you. Amen.

    • Maria J

      Thank you Kylee. I appreciate what you wrote and needed your prayer.

    • Jody Heavenrich Hensley

      Jody

    • Nydia Lugo

      What a beautiful prayer. Thank you I need to work on this, is a very bad trait that I have and I know now that only thru prayer I can be free from it.

    • DeDe

      Thank you Kylee. Such wisdom in your words.

    • Lindsey

      Thank you, Kylee. This prayer gives me hope. I’ve tried for so long to bridle my tongue. May God heal the deeper hurts and insecurities that cause me to boil over and say hurtful things.

    • Heather

      Thank you for this Kylee. I hate how quick I am to anger and to cut with my words and i’m really working on it. I really needed to see this tonight ❤️

  • I’m already a day behind in this study, but as I’ve been reading others comments and just thinking about what is being said here and in yesterdays reading, I feel like it is so important to surrender time to study the word. To surrender parts of yourself that the Holy Spirit can carve out to make room for Jesus. To surrender… and as I was praying the other day, I realized how flippant some people use the word surrender. It’s not just something we say we need to do, or say “I’m surrendering this to you Lord,” it’s an act. There has to be thought in the doing, the act. We must physically make time for the Word every day, to become doers and not just simply hearers. We must mentally and spiritually give up these parts of ourselves, surrender our sins and burdens to the Lord, so that he may make us more like Jesus with every passing moment. We can’t just skim the surface level of what the Word is saying, we must study it. We must “look intently” into the passages and let them transform us through the Holy Spirit. That’s my prayer for us today, that we will continue to surrender so that we can become more confident through reading the Word, and become more like the daughters of Christ God has designed us to be.

    • Kylee

      So so so true and necessary to remember this. I must continuously surrender my will so that His will may prevail. Thank you for sharing!

    • Ebun

      Thanks Holly for the reminder and the prayer. Surrender isn’t a passive word. We need to act on it. I’m 11 days behind but like you, I’m learning to be more conscious in surrendering my time to God so I can study the word and not just skim the surface.

  • This is an amazing study… love this quote “Jesus is the Word made flesh, sent to dwell among us. We are called to look daily not into a mirror, but into the Word—into the very face of Jesus.”

  • These were hard verses for me to get through. When I’m reading on my own, sometimes I skim through the parts of the Word that are hardest for me, but structured studies force me to marinate in the discomfort. The article that accompanied the readings for today provided me with needed emotional support–it reinforced that the more I let the Holy Spirit carve out the ugly parts of me, the more room there is for me to be made more like Jesus.

    I pray that we will be able to grasp the love God has for us and understand that the difficult parts of the Word are probably the parts we need most. I pray that we will have soft hearts that welcome the Holy Spirit. I pray that we will have the faith and the reverence to be doers and not just hearers.

    Additionally, I pray that we trust the Lord with every part of our lives–that we will surrender every part of our lives to Him–so that we have the courage to act after we have heard. Give us courage, Lord, and send Your perfect love to cast out every fear. We lay aside every weight and sin that clings closely so that instead of sitting still, we run with endurance.

  • Most everyone has taken away the part of today’s scripture about being slow to anger and slow to speak… yes, me too! At least at the first two glances. I had underlined yesterday where James wrote that it is Satan who does the tempting, so today of course I knew that anger was a sin that I’ve been tempted by my whole life. Like someone else wrote, all the women in my family fly off the handle some times. Yet, it always leaves me feeling guilty and asking forgiveness from those I lashed out at. I’ve even said out loud before
    “Lord, you know that’s not in my heart!” But wait, it is!! So often I think I’ve done what is the real take away from today’s reading and that is being just a hearer of the word. Hearing and often repeating what I’ve heard, then never fleshing that out and being a doer! I must be a doer of these words and not give Satan a foothold by giving over to anger and hurtful words. Lord, let these ladies and myself be so quick to listen and wait before we speak… let us take time when we are angry and work it out using Your truth so that we resolve it and do not let Satan have even the slightest win!

    • SuzD

      Amen Amber. I need to be more of a listener and doer.

    • Nancy

      Thank you for this. So needed your words of wisdom about hearing and repeating but not doing. Bless you Amber!

  • Lizzie Roman

    Slow to anger… wow. Since I was a little girl, I have always had a quick attitude, and I was always told that it was because that’s just how the women of my family are. I always thought I had a reason to be this way because of where I came from. But I am realizing that no matter where we come from or what our family is like, we are daughters of a King… and what King would allow his daughters to behave anything less than Kingly. I have a lot of work to do and I know it won’t happen over night, but I pray that the Lord gives me the wisdom and the strength to keep my words to myself whenever they do not help to expand His kingdom.

  • Slow to anger hasn’t always been my portion. I started off as a meek, humble little girl but the wounds of life somehow caused this gentle spirit of mine to become a bolt of lightning whose tolerance was minimal. I would rarely forgive and almost NEVER restored any relationship if I did so choose to forgive. It’s not that I myself haven’t probably ruffled some feathers, but I figured for the least bit, I’ve never intentionally tried to hurt anyone.. But then there came my understanding of GRACE…. oh how amazing it is. Grace transformed this heart of stone into a heart of flesh. I forgive more often than not and more quickly than before. a wise woman once said ” Forgive Quickly”, and when I heard those simple, yet provocative words I decided to be a doer. (Thanks Joyce Meyers). Today’s reading was a reminder to self to remain in CHRIST and always seek his word and his ways

  • Amanda Brown

    The biggest thing I took from today’s lesson was “quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger”. Being a full time nurse with a husband and two kids I would often find myself becoming stressed, angry and raising my voice over little things. As a new Christian I have found that the Word of God has helped me tremendously to be more patient with my family. I am able to Listen intently to their needs and feelings. I’m finding this new connection with my family through God that is bringing me so much joy. After all, God and my family are the most important things in my life and I will continue to work at being a doer of the Word. I still have moments of weakness but this is something I am working on and today’s reading truly spoke to my heart.

  • What sticks out most to me is that you can be angry, even Jesus on earth had moments of anger, but the key is not to let your angry produce sin. How we accomplish that is being quick to listen & slow to speak. *where sin multiplied, grace multiplied even more*

    • songbird

      Definitely! I also noticed how this was worded. I see it both as a comfort (it’s ok to be angry) and a warning (but watch out, you’re still responsible!)

  • James presents seemingly simple points but when I read slowly and ready, I can’t help but ask “how do I do that?” How do I be slow to anger? How do I rid myself of all moral filth? How do I keep myself unstained from the world? What do things mean? There is only one way to find out and that is keep digging into God’s word. That’s been the only way for me to be a doer. I’m currently working (again) on my anger. I have given the Holy Spirit free reign to knock me on the head and since I gave Him the lead, I have been experiencing sweet victory. I thought anger felt good. No way! Victory in Jesus feels the best!

    • songbird

      Great to hear, Sally. Anger and envy are things that possibly hurt ourselves even more than others. Yet we sometimes really need God to free us off these sinful sentiments

    • Ruth

      Amen, sister.

  • Miss Courtney

    I’m a pharmacy intern and I had a rough day at work yesterday and I got screamed at not once, but twice in the last hour. I’ve been working there for four years and this was the worst I’ve ever been treated by a patient, let alone two, one right after another. I have to remind myself daily that people I encounter at work are “EGR” or “extra grace required.” It’s only by God’s grace that I was able to extend grace to these individuals in the moment, but afterwards my attitude was tarnished. These verses really convicted me in that. Please Lord cover me in your grace so I can show your grace to others. Lift this bitterness off my heart and renew my joy regarding my work.

  • Oftentimes I feel as though I didn’t listen well enough to hear what was actually being said… I heard the words but not what the words were being spoken out of? (Not sure if I’m making sense.) ie: I hear the angry words but I don’t hear that they are being spoken by someone who feels afraid or I hear the annoyance in a person’s voice but I don’t hear that they are in pain and that the pain is where the edge in their voice is coming from. I’m feeling like maybe if I can remember to take a moment before I respond or before I answer the phone and ask the Holy Spirit to be with me… I’ll do a better job of listening? I lift up all the sisters to you Jesus. Grant us the ears to hear. Bless us with the honor of remembering to invite the Holy Spirit into our everyday, let us feel what it means to have life giving waters flow from our mouths. Let your Grace season our conversations. Fill us with the light of your word. In Jesus’s name.

    • Betsy P.

      Elle, I love this! It is so true–we are so quick to make assumptions about the roots of another person’s words (maybe based on our own, subjective experience), that we fail to really listen and consider. Thank you for that beautiful prayer–I will be using it myself!

  • Amymhayse

    This convicts my heart this morning. I am finding myself quick to speak in frustration to my 3 amazing (and challenging ) children. I want to be slow to speak, I don’t want to react out of frustration or anger. I know all of the right things I’m supposed to do and long to do, but sometimes it just doesn’t come out that way. I needed to sit in this scripture today, Lord show me where I’m not a doer of your word!!

  • James 1:19 is such a good one to know. Be quick to listen, slow to respond, and slow to become angry. Not always as easy at it sounds, though ;)

    http://www.in-due-time.com

  • I was praying about this lesson and I said “Lord, it’s hard to be a doer. This is really hard.” And immediately Holy Spirit brought to my remembrance Deuteronomy 30:11-14: “For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.” I hope this helps someone else today like it helped me! <3

    • Elle

      Yes! Helpful!

    • Annie

      YES! Thank you for sharing this verse. It is so helpful to me tonight. It confirms the verse I have written on a post-it note in my bathroom (lol): “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds.” Hebrews 10:16. Truly, thank you. This is the first time I’ve ever heard that verse you posted and it is lovely!

    • Betsy P.

      Thank you so much for this reminder! I just went back in my Bible and highlighted that verse; it’s so relevant to the readings in James :)

  • lisa johnston

    When we get angry ,it is a way the devil gets in . To kill , steal and destroy what God has promised us . he will never win ! Don’t let him in .

  • Katelyn Rust

    ” If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.” James 1:26
    I am in a season with a lot of conflict with people at church and I get fearful and angry at injustices and I have noticed my heart is hardened but I am aching to be closer to God. I feel like that is God calling my closer to Him, and to not let people define my joy and my path. However, I get so tempted to let my tongue slip and with my husband I have been complaining more. This verse convicts me because I am doing the right steps, but with a hard heart and a want to gossip about those who have wronged me. May I go through today with the temptations in front of me choosing to let me mouth stay silent and my heart focused on what Christ says, and not man.

    • Carlee

      Katelyn, this particular verse popped out at me in the reading for the same reason as what you just shared. Abide in Him, lean into Him, allow yourself to feel disappointment even from people of the Church, rest in the abundance that He has promised, guard your heart: the well Spring on life, choose Him and His plan, trust your instincts they are God given. I remind myself of these things daily. And, then I remember Mary who pondered all things QUIETLY in her heart.
      Thank you for your honestly and vulnerability today!

    • She Reads Truth

      Praying for you in this, friend! Thankful for you.

      – Stormye

  • I don’t know how many times I’ve read James and missed this, thank you Holy Spirit. God’s Righteousness = Quick to listen, Slow to speak, Slow to anger. Human (self centered) anger = Slow to listen, Quick to speak, Quick to anger.

    • Emily B.

      Same here! I definitely questioned how often I actually am quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger as opposed to the opposites.

  • PronetoWander

    Quick to listen, Slow to speak, slow to anger. I need to be reminded of this every so often!

  • Diane Huntsman

    My “over talking” is always a revelation in and of itself of insecurities.. listening is saying You are more important than me at this moment.. You deserve to be heard.. most people don’t want to hear “well when I went through a similar situation” they just want to be heard.. listening is a way to love others.. it’s a ways of showing then they are valued.. and being slow to anger is just wise and shows a maturity that is reflective of godliness.. I’m almost 50, I still have so far to go, but I love to see slow and steady change as I continually ask God to change me..being slow to speak isn’t natural, but it is possible as I allow the Spirit to grant me self control..

  • Diane Huntsman

    The gospel-filled life Christ calls us to is not one full of quick and angry words, self-serving pride, or self-sufficiency, but of sacrificial love and humility. We are called to let the Word do its work inside us—to read it daily with fresh eyes as it, by the Holy Spirit, reads our hearts and transforms us, making us more and more like Jesus. 1000x yes and amen!!!

  • I’ll never forget what someone shared with me, ‘if we are to have any hope of ridding ourselves of sin, moral filth, and evil than we must replace it with such things as Philippians 4:8, ‘whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things’ – lest the sin, immorality and evil return to refill its coveted place in our hearts.

    • Betsy P.

      I love this! Sometimes it can be hard to put into practice verses like “be unstained by the world” (James 1:27) because they seem so vague. It is so true that God’s Word actually equips us to be obedient, though, through other Biblical authors! It is never as hopeless as it may seem at first.

  • Wisdom is something I’ve always wanted to possess. Both my mother and grandmother have been given the gift to speak with prudence and all they’ve done is allow God to guide them. Their foundation is built upon the Word of God and trusting Him in all things. Whatever they speak has first been modeled by God. The difference between speaking on your behalf and speaking through God is incredible. Gods word brings so many things that ours never can. His word brings life, peace and guidance. We just have to be willing to take that journey and say “Lead me Lord.” ❤️

  • I love how the Bible is alive & active … always teaching & correcting!
    Just like yesterday’s passage, I’m asking for wisdom today so that I can continue God’s work even during difficult situations. I do not want to simply listen to the Word – I want a heart that is open to make changes according to what it says.

  • candacejo

    I love Matthew 7:24-27 in The Message: “These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundational words, words to build a life on. If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock. Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit—but nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock.
    “But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a stupid carpenter who built his house on the sandy beach. When a storm rolled in and the waves came up, it collapsed like a house of cards.”

    The Word, the Living Word, gives us foundational words to build a life on! If we are rooted and grounded in that Word, apply it to our lives on a daily basis, we will be a smart carpenter (seeing “stupid” even in The Message was rough!)

    We can’t begin to do these things without His help, without relationship; time in the Word, time in prayer, walking daily with Him.

    Help me, Lord Jesus, to build my life on YOUR Words in order to become more like You.

  • This completely hit home, as yesterday I was guilty of exactly this…I let a frustration at work spill out to other people and it didn’t make me feel any better about the situation. Definitely something I needed to hear this morning as I start another day.

    • Samantha Patterson

      I am right with you!! I pray that today, we both keep this in our hearts to help us out this week :) Grace and Peace

  • Tochi Heredia

    Today’s verses reminded me of a book I read a few months ago: Habits of Grace, by David Mathis (it’s free to download on Desiring God).

    Being slow to speak and slow to anger is such a huge contrast to the world around us, and it’s an evident testimony of who we are in Christ.
    It seems terribly hard, until we realize it isn’t something we can do on our own, it’s a habit of grace produced by His word transforming our hearts.

    Here’s a quote from the book:
    “When we bring God’s words home to our hearts, and then apply them to our lives through an amazed and changed heart, it is a great means of grace to us. He loves to bless the true application or his word to our lives.”

  • When to speak or not to speak, that is the question. It says in the Proverbs that in the multitude of words sin is not lacking. when is to many? I struggle with this because I am a talker. I try to speak things that will build up and edify the body of Christ but I know that I fall short time and time again. My words do get me into trouble. How do you know when is to much until after you have slipped up. Me as women can hang out with my friends and can talk for hours. Is this what the Proverbs is alluding to or is it alluding to James where it says, “Be swift to hear and slow to speak and slow to wrath.” If I am swift to hear and slow to speak my foot won’t end up in my mouth so much. Does anyone else struggle with this or is it just me?

    • Amy

      I do, Lynne, and I’m sure many others do too! I’m reading Keep it Shut by Karen Ehman and she talks about this very thing! You should check it out! :) I think when we try to slow ourselves down in conversation, we can try to listen for the Spirit’s voice and know if He’s telling us to stop talking, to just listen, to say something specific, etc. It’s hard to practice that for sure!

      • carrie

        Yep, all the words, all the time. Lord Jesus, be merciful on me, a sinner.

    • Lynn

      My kids have been taught a modern proverb, “We have two ears and one mouth, reminding us to listen twice as much as we speak.” I am not sure that’s a perfect formula, so much as a way of thinking about what is important.

    • Miss Courtney

      Yup! I learned an acronym at a networking seminar that I find helps me. W.A.I.T. Why am I talking? It helps me to slow down and choose my words carefully.

  • Churchmouse

    “The implanted word.” Yes Lord. Put down Your roots in me. Pull out any “filth and evil” for that is exactly what my sin is in Your sight. Oh Lord, let my religion be my relationship with You. May my relationship with You grow and bear fruit for Your glory. And may this same fruit be used to bless others in Your name. Today I hear Your Word. And now help me to put hands and feet to it. Amen.

  • We have two ears and one mouth for a reason! So easy to say, so hard to live by. Fantastic reminder

Further Reading...