“Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of 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.” James 1:21–22
For anything to be considered true or real there must be evidence that supports it. This is true in science and in legal matters. For a scientific hypothesis to be proven it has to be validated by experimentation, the method for that validation recorded and the process and the results repeatable. In a criminal court assertions of the prosecution and defense need to be upheld by actual evidence verifying that these assertions are true.
We don’t have any problem with this standard of verification when it comes to science and the criminal justice system. In fact, we rely on these expectations as a kind of assurance that science and our courts are trustable. But some how when it comes to our personal spirituality and faith we have a tendency to expect that we shouldn’t have to have any proof, outside of our verbal testimony, to verify that we in fact believe in Jesus, love him, and take him as our Lord and Savior.
James makes it clear that hearing the word of God proclaimed is not enough. Even hearing and giving a verbal agreement to what we’ve heard would fall short of meeting the required standard of authentication. To authentically demonstrate that we have heard, and accepted and believed requires that we actually become “doers” of the word that we’ve heard.
You see verse twenty-one of our focus text makes it clear that the word needs to not be merely heard, it has to be implanted. Implanting is a process by which one thing becomes imbedded into another. Paul uses the metaphor of grafting to describe the implanting process illustrating that the result of the implanting is that the imbedded word will become part of the make up of the individual into which it is imbedded.
Spiritual implanting is demonstrated by our obedience, our doing the works that are in harmony with the word we’ve heard and received. Anything less demonstrates that the hearing has not resulted in implanting. The message has just gone in one ear and out the other. This is understandable with low priority messages but we’re talking about the gospel. We’re talking about salvation from sin and death. It doesn’t get more important and there needs to be evidence that the message has been implanted in us.