He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created. My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.As Christians we are often encouraged to 'be in the Word'... and I see no problem with that.
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.
I've usually read this passage thinking it was encouraging us to be in 'the Word'... you know... the 'Word Of God'... the 66 books we call the Bible.
However there's another way it can be read, and we may miss out on some truths if we don't consider this interpretation.
Was James talking about the 66 books we call the Bible? Likely not considering the book of James was probably written before any of the other New Testament books. In context I don't think he was referring to the Old Testament writings. He may have been referring to partial written works circulating at the time, but certainly not the OT + NT Bible we usually think of when we hear 'Word of God'.
What else could James have meant by "the word of truth", "the word implanted in you". What 'word' was James saying we should listen to?
Was James use of 'the Word' similar to the use in John 1:1 & 14 (NIV):
1. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
14. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Jesus is 'the Word'.
The 'Word' is implanted in us, Jesus lives in us (or the Holy Spirit... I'm not clear on a difference here)
Listening to the Word could mean listening to the Holy Spirit, or Jesus who is living in us.
And of course... don't just listen to what the Holy Spirit tells you... but do it.
So don't just be 'in the Word', but learn to recognize and listen to 'the Word' that is in you!
P.S. I am not stating here that the Bible is not also the Word (or words) of God. I'm not debating here whether the writings in the Bible are inspired by the Holy Spirit... and therefore also 'the Word of God'.