A Bible Study in the Book of James Part V
Hearers and Doers of the Word
22 Put the word into action. If you think hearing is what matters most, you are going to find you have been deceived. 23-24 If some fail to do what God requires, it’s as if they forget the word as soon as they hear it. One minute they look in the mirror, and the next they forget who they are and what they look like. 25 However, it is possible to open your eyes and take in the beautiful, perfect truth found in God’s law of liberty and live by it. If you pursue that path and actually do what God has commanded, then you will avoid the many distractions that lead to an amnesia of all true things and you will be blessed.
26 If you put yourself on a pedestal, thinking you have become a role model in all things religious, but you can’t control your mouth, then think again. Your mouth exposes your heart, and your religion is useless. 27 Real, true religion from God the Father’s perspective is about caring for the orphans and widows who suffer needlessly and resisting the evil influence of the world.
James contrasts hearers of the Word with doers of the Word. He points out a timeless problem; we hear and think we know. James, however, tells us that simply hearing is not enough. Why? Because faith is an action word. It is not a thing, it is an alive, vibrant, moving, action. Faith is not faith unless it is doing something. By that, James is not talking about works. Instead, he very carefully tells you exactly what he means – doers will allow faith to change them from the inside out. Your outside will then reflect all the action on the inside!
God is not Passive –
Hearers Are to Be Doers of the Word
God’s Word is alive and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword according to Hebrews 4:12. There is nothing passive about our God. He is alive; constantly pouring out love and grace; moving in our hearts through the Holy Spirit; providing; always and ever, He is. His Word is the same. So is each element of His character. God is a Doer. We are to be active hearers and doers of the Word.
“There is an element about the Word of God which makes it different from any other book. There are many books which you can read to gain information, knowledge, intellectual stimulation, spiritual inspiration, amusement, or entertainment. But the Word of God is different, and this is probably the reason it is not as popular as other books: it demands action.” J. Vernon McGee’s Thru The Bible
Doers Put Their Knowledge of God Into Action
I have known people who had memorized and taught large portions of the Bible, leaders in the church. However, when temptation knocked on the door, the head knowledge was useless. They walked directly into the temptation. The principles of God must be practiced and practiced every day. Just like exercise, thinking about it, reading and watching videos, listening to podcasts, does nothing for your body. Getting up and exercising is the only thing that makes the knowledge worthwhile. It’s the same with God’s Word.
I know it can seem overwhelming to be a doer. Where do you start? If you’re not sure, start right here. If you are in the midst of a trial, apply the first few verses of James. If not, start with self-control in regard to your words, or maybe your thoughts, or perhaps a secret habit. You don’t have to do the entire Word all at once. Start with one thing.
Doers Even Look Intently – an Action Word!
James says we are to look intently (action) into the law of liberty and then “do it.” If not, we are forgetful hearers. Our goal is to be effective doers. We will be doers if we keep looking and doing intently.
Some of the attributes of a “doer” include – “bridling your tongue!” Hmmm. I think we’ve heard that before. It also goes right along with the three points from Chapter 1 – quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger.
Self-Control Takes Practice – Doing
There is nothing outwardly glamorous about being a doer and controlling our tongues. No one notices or congratulates us on our self-control. It’s not like getting on television and letting everyone know you just gave the Salvation Army $10,000. No one pats you on the back for restraining your tongue. And, in fact, it can be hard to do. It definitely takes practice. Practice it this week. Sometimes the best response is no response. Just because you think it, doesn’t mean it belongs on Facebook. Stop and think about what you are saying, and, more importantly, why you are saying it. Could be that you need to wait or not say it at all? You can say something in many different ways and change the meaning just with your tone of voice or utilizing one or two words.
James finishes his chapter with this, “27 This is pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father, to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”
While our Christian life is more about who we and rather than what we say, our words can expose our heart and undo our religion. Our lack of action can show that we only talk. Some Religion is more about rules and appearances. Being a Christian is about obedience and being conformed to the image of Christ – being a doer, not just a forgetful hearer. Again, straight to the point. Not glorious or glamorous. Not easy. Just three little things – visit orphans in their distress; visit widows in their distress; and, keep yourself unstained by the world.
If you want to know God’s will for you – spend the rest of the year living out James Chapter 1!
This chapter is packed with so much instruction yet it is very easy to simply skim over it, taking it as a little exhortation to just try to do better. This is so far from that! As I have said, it is a map for life. James’ urgent message, then and now, shows us God’s will for our lives. Don’t be caught up in acquiring knowledge and in the opinions of others. Be caught up in being a doer. It’s not a simple task. Yet, it’s rewards are so great. James says that an effectual (effective) doer will be blessed in what he does. What more could we ask for?
“But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but [z]an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in [aa]what he does.” James 1:25 NASB