The blessing of hearing and doing
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 NLT
There are those who will come to hear the Word of God preached and yet, still come away unaffected. This is why James gave the warning: “don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says.” This is also what the writer of Hebrews warned, “So we must listen very carefully to the truth we have heard, or we may drift away from it’ (Hebrews 2:1). Meditating upon God’s Word involves active engagement that results to transformation. This is also what Paul reminded believers in Philippi for when we meditate on God’s Word, we experience the peace of God that sustains us during times of difficulties. “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:8-9 NKJV). We show to God our love to Him when we do what He says. The Word of God was not given just to provide us entertainment. When the Israelites were in exile in Babylon, they look for Ezekiel so they can hear new revelation. But they are not willing to repent from their sin and follow God’s demand. “You are very entertaining to them, like someone who sings love songs with a beautiful voice or plays fine music on an instrument. They hear what you say, but they don’t act on it!” (Ezekiel 33:32). From the text, James used the illustration of a person looking at a mirror wanting to see his reflection. But after glancing at the mirror and saw his appearance, then he ignores what he saw. James says, this is like coming to the Word of God then be confronted by His Spirit to make changes in one’s life but will walk away unmoved. This is what the Lord Jesus Christ told the crowd who eagerly come to Him to hear Him preach but are foolish enough to walk away not responding to what His Word demands. “Anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish” (Matthew 7:26). But those whose ears and hearts are open to listen to God and do what He says will be blessed. “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 1:25).