22 Do not deceive yourselves by just listening to his word; instead, put it into practice. 23 If you listen to the word, but do not put it into practice you are like people who look in a mirror and see themselves as they are. 24 They take a good look at themselves and then go away and at once forget what they look like. 25 But if you look closely into the perfect law that sets people free, and keep on paying attention to it and do not simply listen and then forget it, but put it into practice—you will be blessed by God in what you do.
One of the marks of a true Christ-follower is that they put into practice what the World of God says.
James insists that Christian practice must be consistent with Christian belief so his letter gives us a list of practices that should be present in the life of a Christ-follower. (Keep in mind that the practice comes as an outflow of position. We have been made holy by Christ and if this transformation has occured then there will be outward practices from this inward transformation.)
In chapter 1 James gives us three such practices. He says that a true Christ-follower will...
- Respond with joy and perseverance when faced with trials of all kinds.
- Not blame God for the temptations that we face.
- Act in obedience to the truth revealed in God's Word.
In the last one James implies that the person who has genuinely come into the family of God through saving faith, will respond gladly to the Word of God. In fact they will crave it. Just as we don't have to teach a baby to crave its mother's milk, so too the newborn child of God does not have to be taught to hunger for God's Word. You have to teach them how to eat it with discipline, but the hunger is not taught, it is the natural impulse of any newborn believer. I guess an argument can be made then that the person who professes to be a Christ-follower but who has no interest in hearing and obeying God's Word would not really be considered a child of God. Hmmm, interesting.
So, if the work of grace and faith that brough salvation is genuine in our lives then the outflows of that inward work should be evident. How are you doing in these tests of a believer? How are you responding to trials? What is your response in the face of temptation? What is your response to God's Word?