Doers of God’s Word
But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it. James 1:22-25
Christians have a mistaken notion that if we could just listen and absorb the word of God, we could become better followers of God. Our goal in Christian life is not on how much information we could absorb from God’s word but to have a deeper conviction that leads to consecration. God commands us to “keep on becoming doers of God’s Word.” He insisted on an obedience which lasts. This does not minimize the importance of hearing God’s Word. It does emphasize strongly the need for acting. Too often Christians view a sermon as an interesting moral or theological lecture. We need to do something other than sitting and listening. Jesus pronounced a blessing only on those “who hear the word of God and obey it” (Luke 11:28). The command to listen to God’s Word describes someone who attends a lecture. The hearer could nod agreeably to the message but do nothing as a result. God wants a listener to become a disciple, an obedient follower of Jesus. One who hears the message without doing anything is self-deceived. Such a listener has made a false estimate of the situation. Jesus warned against this error (see Matthew 7:21–27). From the text, James presented a negative and a positive illustration of a response to God’s message. He compared those who only hear God’s Word to people who gazed into a mirror and dashed away with little memory of what they saw. Mirrors in New Testament times were made of polished metal. People used them so they could see themselves clearly as they wash their faces, shave their beards, apply cosmetics, and comb their hair. If they quickly left, giving little thought to the image they had seen, the mirror was of no use. People can repeat this experience in the spiritual realm. We give a quick glance into God’s Word, find a crumb of truth, and jump into another task without remembering or applying what we read. An obedient listener to God’s message looks intently into God’s word and sees it with a desire to learn. When John saw Jesus’ empty tomb (John 20:5), his look led to an obedient faith (John 20:8). Obedient followers of God will continue to do what God says. They put God’s Word into practice and follow through with commitment. They are intent listeners who will not forget what they hear. God will not ask His followers how much of Scriptures they have read and memorized. Instead, God will ask them, “So why do you keep calling me ‘Lord, Lord!’ when you don’t do what I say?” (Luke 6:46). The followers of Christ are eager to receive and obey what God tells them to do.
Noel De Guzman