Read with Intention
Read James 1:24-25 (NASB)
…for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.
According to James, what is the key to becoming an effective doer of the Word of God?
Have you ever missed points on a test simply because you didn’t read the instructions carefully? Maybe you chose a technically correct answer but didn’t read all of the options and missed that it should have been “all of the above.” Or maybe you read too quickly and didn’t notice the keyword “not.” Regardless, not making assumptions about what the questions say and reading with care and intention are important test taking skills! Did you know these are also important Bible reading skills?
In today’s verses, James says the key to be an “effectual doer” is looking “intently” at God’s perfect law. Mirriam-Webster defines “intently” as “with great effort, attention, or concentration.” Someone who looks at God’s perfect law intently studies it carefully so that they can obey it carefully.
Let’s back up and review the context of today’s verses. In this section of Scripture, James is talking about why we should be doers of the Word and not merely hearers of the Word. On Saturday, we looked at James 1:22-23 but let’s put it together with today’s verses: “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror, for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does” (James 1:22-25, NASB).
When most people get ready in the morning, they don’t just glance in a mirror and then walk out the door, checking “look in the mirror” off their to-do list. No, they look into the mirror with the intention of finding the areas of their appearance that need attention and doing something about it! There is a purpose to looking in the mirror!
Likewise, we need to look into the Word everyday with the purpose and intention of putting what we read into action. Putting what we read into action requires that we understand what we read. Understanding what we read requires careful, close reading. As Christians trying to live out our faith, we should be like the Bereans in Acts 17:11 who were described as “examining the Scriptures everyday.” They were thorough readers of God’s Word and they were highly respected for it.
Friends, the Word of God deserves more than just a cursory glance. We can’t just read a single verse each day and then move on without a second thought and expect to experience the transformative power of God’s Word in our lives. Let’s be those blessed people who read the Bible intently and do what it says.
Lord, I confess that at times I have heard or read Your Word carelessly or casually and have not taken steps to put what I have read into practice. Please forgive me. Give me wisdom and insight to understand Your perfect law more fully so that I can be an “effectual doer” instead of a forgetful hearer. Amen.