But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. (James 1:22-24, ESV)
Over many years of preaching, I have heard my husband and so many others preach sermons that contained three important elements: something about the law of God (to serve as a reminder of what God requires and in case there is need for conviction or strong reminder), something that contains Gospel (so we can be reminded of the loving, forgiving, gracious God who loves and cares for us, who sent his Son Jesus to save us from sin and bring salvation), and something that helps us know how to apply God’s word to our life, situations, and circumstances. It does not matter how these three elements are woven into the message, when they are present and part of the message it’s full and just what we need.
James, the brother of Jesus, wrote, we should not be like those who read (or hear) the word of God and quickly forget what we’ve heard or read; resulting in an inability to apply or put into practice what it is we have learned through God’s word, but we should be like those who hear (read) and take something useful away with us.
We can always remember: hearing or reading just to say we have heard or read is not much use to us, but if we can hear or read and put it into practice, that is true treasure in a believer’s life.
When we ask him to help us apply his word, God is faithful to show us how and show us where we can put all we have learned into practice. He wants us to be able to apply those golden nuggets we come across in our daily devotions, during the sermon, in counsel, in our inspirational readings, and as we read his word. He knows that it does not help us to just read or hear and then go away empty-handed, but to read, hear and have something to apply to our lives because when we apply his word that is true treasure and power in a believer’s life and journey.
Application helps us experience that abundant life Jesus talked about in John 10:10. Let’s Pray,
Father, thank you for your word in its entirety, it helps, comforts, strengthens, and encourages us for living this life help us to always take something away with us and to put into practice all we have learned from it. In Jesus’ name, Amen
Reflective Questions for Self and Soul-Tending:
Do you find yourself applying what you have heard or read from God’s word, in your life and circumstances? Have you ever thought of why application is an important part of the Christian life?
How will you incorporate today’s message into your plan of self and soul-care?