Passage: Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in the mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it -- he will be blessed in what he does.
Journal: This is where the rubber meets the road. How many people "practice" their religion by sitting on a pew on Sunday mornings listening to the word of God, but with no tangible evidence that the word of God is influencing how they live their life? This is a great deception, and reminds of the frog being slowly boiled to death, but not jumping out of the water because of the subtlety of the plight. The encouragement of James is to immerse the heart and mind into the word of God, and to live engaged in righteous endeavors. ("But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it -- he will be blessed in what he does.") The common grace of God allows even the greatest of sinners to act kindly and graciously from time to time. However, the clutches of our natural self, fraught with pride, will ensure that such gracious living will not be the prevalent characteristic of sinful man. However, even if a sinner is especially "good" toward others, this relative "goodness" will not reconcile the sinner to the perfect righteousness of God. The sinner is saved from sin because of the imputed righteousness of Christ. It is upon this foundation of imputed righteousness that the child of God, the redeemed sinner, builds a life of righteous endeavors. Why? Because the child of God must pursue such righteousness. It is relational. God is doing a great work in His children, and will see that work to fruition. There will be peaks of righteousness and valleys of sinfulness. However, it is by "acting" on the "perfect law" of God that one climbs through the peaks and valleys, and yet is always rising toward the throne of God, gaining altitude along the way.