As the story goes, a preacher and a soap manufacturer were walking down a street one day. As they walked, they noticed how people were endangering others by driving too fast in a school zone, not stopping at stop signs, and running red lights.
The soap manufacturer looked at the preacher and said, “Preacher, that Bible you preach from must not be any good, because it’s not helping anyone. Look at all the selfishness and disregard for others in the world.”
The preacher didn’t say anything but kept walking. After a while they came upon some children that were filthy and dirty. It looked as though they hadn’t taken a bath in weeks. The preacher looked at the soap manufacturer and said, “That soap you make must not be any good. Look how filthy and dirty these children are.”
The soap manufacturer replied, “My soap doesn’t work unless you use and apply it.” “That’s right!” said the preacher. “It’s the same way with the Bible. The Bible doesn’t work unless people use it and apply it to their lives.” In looking at how the Bible will benefit each of us (if we apply it), let us examine three key words.
1) “Receive” The Word – James tells us that in order to be benefited from the Bible, we must be willing to “receive” its teaching. “Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls” (James 1:21 ESV).
In this text, the word “receive” gives us the idea of hospitality, by openly welcoming something or someone. If we’re going to benefit from the word of God, then we must openly welcome the word God into our lives (cf. Acts 2:41; Acts 13:48). God’s word will never benefit us until it gains access into our life and daily living.
2) “Reflect” On The Word – To benefit from the Bible, we must also be willing to “reflect” on the Word. Once again, James tells us, “For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who look intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like” (James 1:23-24 ESV).
The main purpose for owning a mirror is for self-examination. The mirror allows us to see our outward appearance in order to readily identify areas in need of improvement, the goal being to make ourselves look as clean and neat as possible.
The same hold true with God’s Word. As we look into its “mirror,” we gaze at our “inward” appearance, in order to see ourselves as we really are (Hebrews 4:12), and make any necessary improvements. If we are to use God’s mirror profitably, then we must gaze into it carefully and with serious intent (James 1:25 – note the word “look“). No quick glances will do! We must examine our own hearts and lives in the light of God’s Word. This requires time, attention, and sincere devotion.
3) “Respond” To The Word – Lastly, to benefit from the Bible, we must be willing to “respond” to the Word. James tells us, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22). It is not enough to merely read or hear the Word; we must “do it” in order to be blessed (James 1:25).
In Acts 2, we find a group of hearers that were blessed in responding to the Word. To those hearers who believe in Jesus and were convicted of their sin of crucifying the Son of God, Peter gave the following words of instruction: “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). “Then those who gladly received his word were baptized [the response]; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them” (Acts 2:41).
James tells us that in order to be “blessed,” or to receive any benefit from God’s Word, one must not only read and study it, but be willing to make proper application of it. “He who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does” (James 1:25).
Dear reader, will you not “receive,” “reflect” on, and “respond” to the Word of God this very day? God will bless you if you do!