My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.
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 someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.
Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
The word action is a noun described as “the process of doing something to achieve an aim.” I know you didn’t sign up for a grammar lesson, but hear me out: we often think of “action” as a verb—we focus on the what of action, but it’s less about what we do and more about why we’re doing it. It’s about the aim.
James, the brother of Jesus, knew our actions in our relationship with Jesus were more about the why than just the doing. Verse 25 of this passage says, “But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.” James’s encouragement in this passage is not to simply do an action but to be deeply connected to your aim. Your aim is to follow Jesus, be like Jesus to the people around you, and allow Jesus to be the Lord of your life.
We allow Jesus to be the Lord of our actions when our actions lead us to be more like Jesus. When you read this passage, focus on what it says and why you’re putting these words into practice. It’s easy to listen to what you’re supposed to do as a follower of Jesus and remove your heart from the act, but James is saying, “Read these words of Scripture, internalize them in your heart, and act on them. Let these words of God guide your actions.”
So, what’s your aim? What are you doing today that connects your actions to Jesus?