Yesterday we talked about gaining strong roots in God’s Word by ruminating throughout the day on the Word He brought us in the morning (see Be Well-Watered), where His mercies are new (Lam 3:22-23). With everything the world will throw at us, temptation and persecution, we need the Lord’s strength to weather the storms of life. “Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by His vast strength. Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics of the Devil.” (Eph 6:10-11) Part of that armor, and the only offensive weapon God gives us to use is the “sword of the Spirit, which is God’s Word” (v 17). We must know His Word in order to use it.
Today’s Scripture gives us a promise for those who meditate on His Word: “But the one who looks intently into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but one who does good works—this person will be blessed in what he does.” (James 1:25) Notice that here James is speaking of one who “looks intently” or meditates on God’s Word, and is not just a casual reader or hearer. We can’t persevere or be obedient to God’s Word if we forget what it says. That’s the reason He gives us His revelation, so that we can understand and be obedient to His will. Meditation on God’s Word is a means to becoming more Christlike, not the primary purpose. The primary purpose of meditating on God’s Word is godliness.
The practice of godliness is an exercise or discipline that focuses upon God. From this Godward attitude arises the character and conduct that we usually think of as godliness. So often we try to develop Christian character and conduct without taking the time to develop God-centered devotion. We try to please God without taking the time to walk with Him and develop a relationship with Him. It’s impossible to develop Christian character without a personal relationship with the Lord. That’s why meditating on God’s Word, looking intently at His decrees, and applying to them to our lives is so important. It is, in essence, humbling ourselves more and more to His will and putting our humanistic will aside.
Jesus Himself used a parable to teach the reason we must abide in His Word to have a firm foundation: “I will show you what someone is like who comes to Me, hears My words, and acts on them: He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. When the flood came, the river crashed against that house and couldn’t shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears and does not act is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The river crashed against it, and immediately it collapsed. And the destruction of that house was great!” (Luke 6:47-49)
The Lord wants His children to be well-equipped to stand against the devil’s tactics, which takes devoting ourselves to Him and His Word. Devotion to God is the mainspring of godly character. And this devotion is the only motivation for Christian behavior that is pleasing to God. Jesus said, “The one who has My commands and keeps them is the one who loves Me. And the one who loves Me will be loved by My Father. I also will love him and will reveal Myself to him.” (John 14:21)