James 1:22-25 – Be doers of the word

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.James 1:22-25
We can spend all day listening to sermons, studying the Bible, reading good devotionals and posting Bible verses on social media, but James warns us that if we don’t move from hearing the word to actively acting on it, it is all pointless. As Paul puts it in 1 Corinthians 13:2If I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.”
Knowledge by itself is meaningless. We are called to be doers. James is warning us that the important thing isn’t how many Bible verses we have memorised, but how many Bible verses we live out. We all know people who can talk the talk. But what counts, according to James and Paul, is walking the walk, living out our faith.
James goes further, saying that those of us who are doers of the Word will be blessed. People search for the blessing of God in all sorts of ways and places. They will travel to ‘special’ sites where they hope to get close to God. They will search out preachers who claim to have a special anointing and blessing to share if we will just donate to their ministry. They will fast. They will read the latest best-selling book promising Your best blessed life now in 10 easy steps. But James tells us the key to a blessed life is simple – be doers of the Word.
That is all there is to it – we are to simply do the things God tells us to do in His word. We manage it in other spheres of life – if our boss tells us to do something at work we go and do it (or we will lose our job). But when it comes to the Word of God we read it, underline it, highlight it, journal about it, do Greek word-studies on it, have study groups to discuss what we think it means, listen to pastors explain what they think it means, buy nice coffee mugs with it printed on them – anything apart from actually simply doing what it commands us to do!
We need to resolve to do what we read and hear from God’s word. Otherwise looking at the rest of James’ letter is a waste of time. If we are not going to let what God speaks to us through His Word by the power of the Holy Spirit impact us and change how we live as it shapes us and molds us more and more into the likeness of Christ then we are like the man staring at his reflection but wandering off and forgetting what he looks like. We deceive ourselves, thinking we are doing a good thing spending time studying the Word, but James warns us that study that does not lead to action has completely missed the point. When you open the Bible let your time be like someone who looks in the mirror, sees dirt on their face and washes it off, rather than just staring intently and then walking off and forgetting what you look like.

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