‘Be Doers of the Word’ – Reflection for Trinity 13, August 29 2021

Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. In fulfilment of his own purpose he gave us birth by the word of truth, so that we would become a kind of first fruits of his creatures.

You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; for your anger does not produce God’s righteousness. Therefore rid yourselves of all sordidness and rank growth of wickedness, and welcome with meekness the implanted word that has the power to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like. But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act — they will be blessed in their doing. If any think they are religious, and do not bridle their tongues but deceive their hearts, their religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

James 1:17-27

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The writer of the letter of James poses a challenge. As Christian people we are not simply to listen to the words of the gospel, we are to live the gospel message in our daily lives. It’s not enough merely to be hearers of the word of God, we are to be doers of the word of God too. There is something here about integrity and something about balance. It’s easy to talk the talk but do we walk the walk, as the saying goes? Has our faith in Jesus Christ become something of a comfort blanket rather than the gift of God that shapes our life?

We know that we should be people who pray, who read our scriptures, who worship together and who live out our faith in the world 24/7. We know we should ‘care for orphans and widows in their distress’ (James 1:27) and much more besides. Jesus is very clear: we are to love our neighbour as ourselves and our neighbour is everyone in God’s world. We cannot take on all the world’s problems, but we should be clear about who we feel called to help, what injustice we feel called to challenge, as we live out the transforming gospel of Jesus Christ day by day.

A few years ago, those who took part in Lent groups looked at how to live ‘A Rule of Life’ a shape for living, a rhythm of life that ensures a healthy balance between prayer, study, work, play and action. In the Christian life, it’s good to pause from time to time to think about whether we have the correct balance in our lives. Encouraged by today’s bible reading, this may be a good time for you to pray and talk this through with a member of the ministry team or with a friend. May we all grow in faith and service of others as we both hear and do the word of God. Then shall we indeed be blessed.

Rev Canon Nikki Arthy, Rector

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