"Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
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. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing."
Have you ever met a person who says one thing and does the opposite? This type of person is not one whom you respect. James warns the believers in this chapter that we should remove all filthiness and sin from ourselves so that we can truly hear God's Word. However, it is not sufficient to attend church and sit attentively under the preaching of God's Word. We must HEAR and OBEY God's Word.
In training our children, we struggle with teaching that the heart attitude and actions must reflect each other. We could be ultra strict and create miniature robots who obey simply out of fear of punishment but inside their heart rebels with every directive. This is not the type of child we long to raise. We long to have children who obey God's Word out of love for God and a desire to show that love. However, we also must be careful not to be lax in discipline. For we must teach them that sin has consequences.
Yesterday, I called my kids in for lunch and asked them to put bowls and spoons at the table. The bowls were placed and then all of the kids sat down around the table giggling and laughing. I repeated the directive to place spoons -- they heard, but not one of them got up to follow through. What a clear example of how we often approach God's Word. There have been many times that I have attended church, heard the preaching, returned home and forgotten what the sermon was about -- I cannot act upon what I've heard if I have not taken the time to reflect on it and apply it.
JA recently told me a story of a man they had attending their church when he was a boy. This man, with long hair and a lifestyle of sin believed on Christ. He came faithfully to church. J.A. asked his dad "Why don't you preach against smoking, and the specific sins in this man's life?" His dad's response was get people in the Word of God and the issues take care of themselves. Then in a sermon JA's dad read the verse "long hair is a shame to man." The man's immediate response was "What, that's in the Bible!" The next week the man returned to church with the shortest hair cut.
This is the immediate act of obedience to God's Word that we each must strive for.