Gordon Crook, Pastor Wichita, Kansas
“But be you doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” James 1:22
James presents us with the practical side of our Christian life in his epistle. He tells us that our faith should lead to good works. “. . . and I will shew thee my faith by my works.” James 2:18. Many have misunderstood this to mean that we need faith plus works to be saved. However, James is just helping us to understand that if our faith is genuine, it will result in good works. Those that have the life of Christ in them will show the works of that life as they yield.
We are called on to be doers, and not only hearers. Anyone can “hear” God’s Word, or read it for themselves, but many do not take it as something to be obeyed. They might treat it as a good book, or good literature, but those that are true believers should read and hear with the intent to obey. It is the living Word of God and is to be lived in our lives, not just admired from afar.
Jesus speaks about those that hear His words and does them in Luke 6:47-49. Those that do (obey) His words are like the man that built his house on a firm foundation and it prevails against the storm. Taking heed to God’s Word and obeying will certainly make us more stable and resilient to the storms of life.
In Luke 8:15 we find from the parable of the sower that the seed that fell on good ground represents those that hear the Word, and they “keep” it and bear much fruit. This is the purpose that God has in our lives, and this is how He works. As we hear the Word, and we lay hold of it (true desire for it to be real in our lives), and allow the Holy Spirit to work in our lives, we bear much fruit which is the “doing” part. This is the result that others see in our lives.
James speaks about those that are “hearers only” as deceiving themselves. Hearing God’s Word without any intent or desire to obey it is self deceit. We deceive ourselves if we think we can “hear” God’s Word and then continue our lives as though we had not. This is usually expressed as self righteousness. “I don’t need to do what God says; I’m fine on my own.”
As I was reading Hebrews 11 about the saints of the Old Testament who lived by faith, I was struck with the thought that their faith was always expressed by their actions. Abel offered a more excellent sacrifice. Noah built an ark and preached. Abraham obeyed and went someplace he did not know, and he offered up Isaac. All of these are actions (doing) that was the result of their faith.
They believed what God said, and it elicited obedience even in the face of ridicule. Noah was building an ark where there had been no rain. Sometimes we are reluctant to obey God’s Word because it conflicts with our culture or with something in ourself that thinks we know better.
We need to understand that God’s Word is the only truth that matters, and that it is not to the changing whims of culture. Some have been convinced that we need to make God’s Word fit the cultural norms of the time, or it will become outdated. The correct approach is to realize that our life should conform to God’s Word regardless of the cultural norm around us.
In Psalms 19:11 we find this “Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward.” Notice the great reward part. God has so much prepared for those that love Him. Even though our ability to “keep” and “do” God’s Word is only by the power of His Holy Spirit, He still has reward for those that yield to Him.
The Psalmist also reminds us that God’s Word is wonderful. Psalms 119:129 “Thy testimonies [are] wonderful: therefore doth my soul keep them.” As we continue growing in God’s Word, we come to realize more and more how wonderful it truly is. Obeying is not just a drudgery, or a religious duty, but a real joy.
Are you a hearer only, or also a doer of God’s Word. Do you find joy in obeying God’s Word and having it worked into your life by the Holy Spirit? Those that will be part of the bride of Christ will certainly be those that are doers of the Word, and not hearers only.