Summary: One of the main reasons we fail to put God’s Word into practice is forgetting. This message gives practical steps you can take to learn how to meditate deeply on God’s Word so it becomes a part of your life.
James 1:22 But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 Because if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man looking at his own face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But the one who looks intently into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but one who does good works-- this person will be blessed in what he does.
The Bible is like a mirror that reflects the true condition of your soul. And there are four possible responses to the mirror of God’s Word:
1. Learn nothing (like someone with messy hair who looks in the mirror and says, “Nothing’s wrong”).
2. Learn without personalizing (that’s like looking in the mirror and saying, "People should brush their hair") .
3. Learn and personalize it ("I should brush my hair" but you never get around to it).
4. Learn, personalize, and do (you look in the mirror, realize what needs to be done, and you pick up a brush and brush your hair).
That’s the only good response. But it is that third response – hearing and not doing, that James is warning us about in this passage. That is the dangerous one because it is deceiving. If you are really studying a lot, and really learning a lot, you are even applying it to your own situation – it is so easy to deceive yourself into thinking that is progress. You can become one of those people who want more and more sermons, more studies, more seminars, book after book after book; or they want more and more counseling, going from one counselor to another thinking counseling will solve their problems – but they are not doing anything. They are not putting anything into practice. They are not making any changes in their daily routine. They may have learned a lot, but if you watch them from the time they wake up until the time they go to bed, there is no difference from the way they were before they learned all that stuff. They are deceived.
A guy once showed up really late to church and he asked the greeter, “Is the sermon done already?” To which the greeter replied, “It’s been preached; it has yet to be done.” The sermon is not done until you do it. People ask me all the time, “What’s the best translation of the Bible?” The best translation of the Bible is you doing it.
And every true Christian understands that to some degree. We are all striving to put God’s Word into practice, but very often we fail. And so in James 1:25, James gives us five principles that will help us succeed. The first three we saw last time. If you want to be a doer of the Word, first get motivated by the promise of blessing. Then understand what the Word really is - the perfect law of freedom. Then look intently into it. And that is where we left off last time - with that concept of intensive looking into God’s Word. The common biblical word for that is meditation - which is a very prolific theme in Scripture.
3) Look Intently
Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the whole Bible. And the entire thing is about Scripture. One hundred seventy-six verses about God’s Word, and never once does he mention reading it – or studying it, or even listening to it. But what he does mention, over and over and over, is the thing that God really wants us to do with His Word, namely, meditate.
Psalm 119:15 I meditate on your precepts
23 your servant will mediate on your decrees.
97 Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long.
Again in verses 27, 48, 78, 99, and 148 – all through that psalm he talks about meditation. Is it important to read the Bible? Yes, but only so that you can meditate on it. The only value to reading, listening, and studying is so that you can understand it. And the only value to understanding God’s Word is so that you can meditate on it.
Psalm 119:27 Let me understand the teaching of your precepts and then I will meditate on your wonders.
Meditation is the emphasis, because meditation is the key to getting what you know into what you do. Meditation is the way to get it from your head into your hands – so you do it.
Joshua 1:8 Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.