Dunbar Cave Campus Pastor
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.
One of the things you may learn about me is that I am not a fan of merely being a spectator, especially when it comes to sports. I struggle watching sports like baseball, soccer, and golf. I would much rather play. Although I do enjoy watching basketball and football, nothing compares to actually being in the game. When it comes to Sunday morning worship I cannot merely just watch the band sing and listen to the words, I have to join in and sing–though the person sitting next to me may not enjoy it so much. Their ears may be hurting but my heart is filled with joy. Ultimately, I want to be more than an observer. I want to be a doer. This is the heart of James when we come to the Scripture above.
In this passage, the one who is a hearer of the word and not a doer is like one who looks in the mirror, sees himself, and forgets what he saw. James is saying this person ignores the word after reading it and fails to apply it to his life. But we are called as believers to not only listen to the words, but also do the word. It’s like being a parent and asking a child to go and clean their room. If you came back 2 hours later and the room wasn’t clean, you’d ask the child why haven’t they cleaned the room like you told them. What if they replied, “I didn’t clean my room but I sure did listen to you telling me to go and clean it; I listened to every word you said.” You might get a little frustrated or confused because you expected the child not just to listen to you but to also obey. In the same way, we are to listen to the word of God and apply it to our lives.
The one who is a hearer and a doer of God’s word actively listens to the word and applies it to one’s life. Upon hearing the word of God, this person is moved to action. This person continually practices what they have seen in the word of God.
The ultimate question we must ask ourselves concerning this text is this: Are we merely hearers or spectators of the word, or are we doers and in the game. Are we allowing the word of God to penetrate our heart and visibly transform our lives?