Be Doers of the Word and Not Hearers Only
"Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves" (James 1:22). The prior verses stressed the importance of a good attitude toward God's word, and now the focus shifts to our behavior toward it. We can't just be hearers of the word. We must also be doers. Otherwise, we're just tricking ourselves into thinking that we're religious, when in fact we're not!

The Greek tense here indicates continuous action. We can't just obey one time and then quit. We must continue to hear and obey God's word. Do you see how this is something that each Christian must do personally? One could regularly listen to good preaching and even pay close attention, but such is vain if the listener doesn't act upon the message. Hearing the word is important, but hearing without obeying is useless.

Sometimes I wonder if folks are under the delusion that as long as they attend worship services regularly and listen attentively they are okay. The blessing is not in hearing, but in hearing and doing! A disciple who only listens and doesn't conform completely to the word is deceiving himself if he thinks he is saved.

James offers an inspired illustration of the great contrast between Christians who hear and do and Christians who hear and do not do in 1:23,24 - "If anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away and immediately forgets what kind of man he was." I think I'd be safe in saying that probably every one of you looks into a mirror at your physical or natural face before you leave home each day. Appearances are important to most people.

When I get up in the morning, my hair is a mess, I need to shave, I need to brush my teeth, etc. Now, how smart would I be if I went in to the bathroom, looked in the mirror, saw that I needed to do some work on my appearance, but instead I just walk away and go about my day? In fact, as soon as I walk away, I forget what I look like! I forget that I'm looking pretty shabby because I get sidetracked thinking about other things. That wouldn't be very smart at all!

You and I should be looking into God's word daily--it is a spiritual mirror. If we look into this book carefully and closely, we'll see ourselves as we really are; we'll see ourselves as God sees us! We'll see spiritually if we need to comb our hair, shave, brush our teeth, etc. We'll see if we need to make some changes!

I hope you continually look at yourself spiritually through the mirror of God's word. Do you like what you see, or do you need to make some changes? It's okay if you need to make some changes, just don't walk away from the mirror until you make them! How foolish it would be for you to listen to what God is telling you through the Bible and see that you need to make some changes, and then walk away from the book not doing anything about it! To do such makes as much sense as me looking into a mirror and seeing a big piece of food in my teeth and just ignoring it. If I walk away, it is true that I'll forget about it. But, the problem is still there! If you walk away from the Bible without making the changes in your life that you can see are clearly needed, you'll forget about them. But, the spiritual problem is still there and is plainly visible to the Lord at all times! He knows us all. He knows our shortcomings. He knows what we need to change, and if we hear and fail to do, He won't be pleased.

Occasionally someone will say to me that a lesson really hit them. Perhaps my response should be: "Well, what are you going to do about it?" I'm afraid we sometimes think that listening to the painful truth or letting a preacher whip us somehow makes us right before God. It doesn't. All a preacher can do is open up the word and show where improvements need to be made in one's life, but it is up to the individual to do something about it. Just listening to preaching doesn't change anything really (except one's knowledge). Preaching is a form of prodding to get you to do something. Friends, if you ignore the prodding, then you're a forgetful fool! Isn't that what the Lord said - "But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall" (Matt. 7:26,27)?