Hearing Just Doesn’t Cut It (James 1:22-25)

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, ESV)

It’s no secret that as we get older our memory becomes less and less reliable. Some of us understand this from experience a little better than others, but we all know the frustration that comes from something really important slipping our minds. I recently read that the way that many of us remember information has completely changed with the advent of the internet. Rather than remembering specific information, we instead recall where that information is located and how to find it. Rather than spouting off how Teddy Roosevelt’s reforms effected small businesses, we remember the Wikipedia article that contained such information.

While forgetfulness is simply part of life, it should not be part of the Christian life. God’s Word should be a priority to us — something that we hold before our eyes constantly to keep us heading in the direction God wants us to go. Hearing God’s Word is very important. We must daily crack the Bible on our own to search it’s vast expanse and labor to mine the innumerable hidden gems. But more than that, we should surround ourselves with good Bible teaching at church and catch occasional sermons on the radio or our iPod. To hear the Word is to put ourselves on the right track, however it is not the end of the matter. Doing must accompany our hearing.

If I received word that by showing up at a certain place on a certain day of the week, I would automatically be entitled to $1,000,000, no strings attached; I would have received some very good news! But only hearing the message will do me no good. I actually have to show up to get the money. The information is useless unless I act on it.

In the same way, you can comb God’s Word for all the precious truth your heart can handle, but if you don’t act on what you find and learn, it’s useless. You’ve become like someone, according to James, who looks at his face in the mirror and as soon as he turns away, has completely forgotten what he saw.

So pour over the pages of scripture. Go before God in prayer asking him to open the eyes of your understanding so that you can see the rich and glorious truths he has revealed to us (Ephesians 1:16-19). But don’t stop there. Build those truths into your everyday life. Take them with you when you get out of bed, when you fix your kids’ breakfast, when you head off to work, when you face conflict with a family member and when you battle sin and temptation throughout the day. That way, you can be a doer of the word and not a hearer only.


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