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“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”-James 1:22

The book of James is perhaps the most direct letter in the New Testament. Rather than word pictures or abundant illustrations, James gets down to business by verse 2. By verse 22, he bluntly informs readers, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”

James is clear that listening to spiritual truth is important, but it’s merely the first step to honoring God. Obedience is the key factor, and often the missing factor, among those who claim to follow Jesus.

And James would know. He grew up as the half-brother of Jesus, yet didn’t even believe in him until after the resurrection. Yes, his older brother seemed to be the perfect child, but there was no way he could be the Messiah, could he? They shared the same bedroom as kids; that doesn’t sound like the Messiah James grew up hearing about at the local synagogue.

But once James had experienced the risen Jesus, it was a different story. A story of listening–and doing. There was no time to mess around with debates or trivia; Jesus is the Messiah and he’s coming back. We need to live like it.

Still today, his message rings strongly in a culture where religion often elevates the trivial above the essential and preference over holiness. What James said then is just as needed today. Don’t just listen to the word. Do it.

Only then will we live fully devoted to Christ.

[Originally posted here.]

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DILLON BURROUGHS is an author, activist, and co-founder of Activist Faith. Dillon served in Haiti following the epic 2010 earthquake and has investigated modern slavery in the US and internationally. His books include Undefending Christianity, Not in My Town (with Charles J. Powell), and Thirst No More (October). Discover more at ActivistFaith.org.

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