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Part of the FBCS 2010 Read Through the Bible Project: Enter the Story. Join the Song.

Be Doers of the Word.

James 1    Jeremiah 21-22    Psalm 129

“But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers” (James 1:22). Otherwise, we deceive ourselves. In this James and Jeremiah agree, placing before us in this day’s readings a theme that permeates the whole story of God. The word of the Lord is not given to be merely heard and forgotten (James 1:23,24), but heard and acted upon (Jeremiah 21:12; 22:3,4). Otherwise, it hasn’t actually been heard (Jeremiah 22:21). What’s more, apart from obedience, faith in God becomes an exercise in self-deception, even for those who have experienced God’s help in the past (Jeremiah 21:2; Psalm 129:1) . . . And, lest we miss the message, James and Jeremiah are precise in identifying the doing:

“Act with justice and righteousness” (Jeremiah 22:3). Deliver the oppressed. Defend the defenseless. Don’t mistreat or hurt “the alien, the orphan, and the widow” or, as James positively states, “care for orphans and widows in their distress” (James 1:27).  Oh, and wagging our tongues at them, or talking about helping, or prattling on about what it means to be religious won’t cut it (James 1:26). In fact, engaging our mouths without extending our hands “is worthless.” It would seem, then, that being “doers of the word” means loving those around us; particularly those most in need of love. After all . . .

“Is not this to know me?” (Jeremiah 11:16). So says the Lord. And the question is rhetorical, for such love-in-action, as described in today’s texts, is at the heart of being in relationship with God and keeping oneself “unstained by the world.” So. Those who actually love God, actively love others. And this is why those who do justice and righteousness practice a “religion that is pure and undefiled before God” (James 1:27).  There is much soul-searching to be done here. And much loving. May we be doers of the word. Today. Amen.

“Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”
— James 1:17


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