“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.”
(James 1:22-25 NIV)
As James continues his thought about receiving the word God plants in our hearts, he challenges us to let our faith be living and active, to nourish it and see that it grows.
God intends our faith to be like a plant, not a picture on a wall or an ornament on a shelf. Our faith is meant to be a truth held in our heart, and lived out in our lives.
James says if we listen, that’s good, but we can’t stop there. The Greek and Roman culture of James’ day promoted the idea that belief alone was enough, that actions based on that belief were not needed. James says that if subscribe to that philosophy, that we deceive ourselves.
Jesus said something very similar to His followers:
“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.”
(Luke 6:46-49 NIV, emphasis mine)
Being a hearer is passive; someone else does the work as the speaker. Being a doer is active; we provide the energy and motion to make it come to life.
God gives us His instruction book for life; it’s up to us whether we choose to read it or ignore it. The consequences of reading or ignoring, of merely reading it or living it out,are on us, not on God.
Just as a mirror provides a reflection of our face as we look into it, the Word provides a reflection of our soul. James says hearing and doing is like the difference between quickly glancing at ourselves, and forgetting what we’ve seen, and looking intently, and studying every detail.
James says that both hearing and doing ultimately provides freedom and blessing. Instead of loathing the person in the mirror, for all our sin and shame, we see the reflection of Christ in us, as we both hear and do God’s Word.
It’s easy to get distracted in life, isn’t it? Guys, it’s easy to get distracted in either our thoughts or actions when getting ready for the day… we forget to shave a spot on our face, or end up with a spot of shaving cream behind our ear. Ladies, you get distracted, and get part of your makeup on, but forget to finish, so you end up with one eye done and the other not, or worse. We think we look great, we deceive ourselves, but everyone else sees what we really look like.
Time in look in the mirror again… Oops, I missed a spot…