Doers of the Word

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“Do you hear me?”  My mother must have asked me that question a thousand times as I was growing up. Looking back on it, I realize it was a rhetorical question. She really did not want me to answer, because before I could say a word, she started repeating what she said, that she thought I didn’t hear. All she wanted was obedience. She wanted me to do what she had just said. I know now, my problem was not poor hearing, but negligent listening.

For most of us, it is easy to hear, but hard to listen—effortless to talk, but difficult to act. James summed it up best: “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves” (James 1:22). True enough, most who only hear the Word of God, think they have done their duty, even when they do not follow through and obey it. But pleasing God is in the doing, not the hearing.

James went on to illustrate the neglectful hearer, saying: “if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was” (verses 23 and 24). The careless man looks into a mirror and forgets what he sees, whereas the earnest man looks into the Word of God, and acts upon what he sees. He is a “doer” of the word, not merely a hearer.

God wants us to be “doers” because anyone can talk about pleasing God in his life, but it requires faith to obey Scripture—that is—to really do it. A lot of talk about Scripture and discussion of the Bible occurs every Sunday morning in churches all across the land. In various kinds of classes saints sit and discuss the meaning of Scripture, sometimes in great depth—But how much does it actually touch and change their lives for Christ? Unless they become “doers” of the Word—their knowledge makes little difference. In fact, James wrote that if people hear but do not do the word of God, they “delude themselves.” They falsely think they are pleasing God, when actually, they are not.

Self-deception is a genuine threat to an obedient Christian life. Some talk a good game, but never get on the field. You cannot obey by only hearing and talking. “In all labor there is profit, But mere talk leads only to poverty.” (Proverbs 14:23). Someone described a football game as twenty-two people on a field badly in need of rest—being watched by seventy-thousand people in the stands badly in need of exercise. For some of us, Christianity is a spectator sport, but Jesus calls us to be active participants. We must get into the game and get involved in the action, doing our part, willingly paying the price because the stakes are so high.

It is amazing how often the disciples, and we, overlook the Lord’s plain commands to obey Him. Once, talking to His disciples, Jesus said, “blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it” (Luke 11:28). Most would be happy just to hear, but that is never enough. On another occasion, Jesus directly confronted His followers by asking, “Why do you call Me, Lord, Lord, and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46). There is great promise in obedience, for Jesus said, “If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them” (John 13:17). And, even in the Great Commission, Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you…” (Matthew 28:19-20). His churches are not commanded to merely teach disciples, but to teach them to OBSERVE what He commanded.

In January 1933, during the midst of the Great Depression, a lady found this poem pasted to the wall of an old farm house. She was so impressed by its truth she made hand copies for each of her seven children.  This powerful principle of life is still true today. It was called: Someday!

There’s a loving letter I mean to send, There’s a visit I mean to pay;

There’s a careless habit I hope to mend, When I get the time, someday.

I will carry flowers to the sick and sad; I will seek for those who stray;

You may trace my steps by the hearts made glad, When I get the time, someday.

There’s a dusty Bible I mean to read; There’s an hour I’ll keep to pray;

And I’ll turn each dream to a golden deed, When I get the time, someday.

So we have thought and so we have said, Yet, how sad it is to relate—

That, busy with less important things; We waited until too late—

We never will get the time, dear friend, To be kind along life’s way,

Unless thoughtfully and prayerfully, We make the most of today!

To do God’s will, we must actually DO something! It is never enough to hear; not enough to talk or think; not enough to wish and hope—we must do His will and work in our lives! To do His will calls for prayer, action, commitment, diligence and faithfulness. Make it your goal to both HEAR and DO the will of God in your life!

I wonder if God is not raising His voice to us, as my mom did years ago when she asked, “Do you hear me?” Hear Him, and do His will, while you have opportunity…beginning today!

 

Author: Larry E. Clements

Follower of Christ, fortunate to be husband to Pat, father of 5, grandfather of 12, writer, associate pastor of Pauline Baptist Church

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