James encourages us to be doers of the word. 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 observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.”
You and I look into a mirror to see how we look. You may look at your hair or you may look at your clothes to see if they are the way you want them to be before you go out to be with other people. But you probably also look at your face. You may notice that your nose may not be the size or shape that you want it to be. You may notice your eyes and your eyebrows and they may not be the color or shape you would want. You may look at the shape of your face whether it is round or oblong. You may notice that your teeth are not perfect. You may see any blemishes that you have on your face. Most people are not completely happy with how they look because they see the imperfections. But then you leave the mirror and go out into the world and you forget the imperfections you saw; you soon forget what you saw in the mirror. James says that in the same way, if you hear the word and don’t do what it says, you are acting just the same as when you looked in the mirror and then afterwards forgot what you looked like. The word of God acts like a mirror. The word tells us how we should act and think to be pleasing to God; it tells us how to act wisely and what God considers as sin. When you hear or read the word, it will make obvious the imperfections in your life and where you are disobeying God and where you are not doing what He wants you to do. When you hear the word, do you take action to make the changes that are required? Are you a doer of the word or just a hearer? Are you deceiving yourself that you are a faithful disciple of Jesus?
Most of us have heard a skilled musician sing a beautiful song and accompany himself on an instrument such as a piano or a guitar. Those hearing the beautiful song may encourage others to come hear the pleasant music. In the same way, some people like to hear the word of God. Ezekiel 33:30-33 “As for you, son of man, the children of your people are talking about you beside the walls and in the doors of the houses; and they speak to one another, everyone saying to his brother, ‘Please come and hear what the word is that comes from the Lord.’ So they come to you as people do, they sit before you as My people, and they hear your words, but they do not do them; for with their mouth they show much love, but their hearts pursue their own gain. Indeed you are to them as a very lovely song of one who has a pleasant voice and can play well on an instrument; for they hear your words, but they do not do them.” Some people today like to hear the word of God but they don’t put the words into action in their life.
Jesus said in Luke 6:46 “”But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?” This matter of hearing but not doing was a problem in the time of Ezekiel and in the time of Jesus and it is still a problem at the present time. Jesus continued in Luke 6:47-49 “Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like: He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock. But he who heard and did nothing is like a man who built a house on the earth without a foundation, against which the stream beat vehemently; and immediately it fell. And the ruin of that house was great.” Jesus here uses the analogy of building a house. If one hears the words of Jesus and puts them into practice, he is like one who built his house with the foundation on bedrock. Whatever storms of life may come upon him, whatever may be the flood of problems and trials that may try to wash him away, he will stand and endure because in his life he has followed the teachings of Jesus. On the other hand, if one only hears the teaching of Jesus and doesn’t base his life on what he hears, he is like one who built his house on sand, without a foundation. When the storms of life come, with their problems and trials, he will not stand because he did not do the things that Jesus taught.
James admonishes us to not be forgetful hearers. God delivered the Israelites from Egypt with mighty miracles. After the Israelites left Egypt, God spoke to them from Mount Sinai and gave them the Ten Commandments. The people trembled and stood afar off. Afterwards, Moses read the book of the covenant to the people. Exodus 24:7 “Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read in the hearing of the people. And they said, ‘All that the Lord has said we will do, and be obedient.’” The people promised to do everything that the Lord had said. But when Moses went up Mount Sinai for forty days and nights to receive the words of God, the people became forgetful hearers. Exodus 32:1 “Now when the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, the people gathered together to Aaron, and said to him, ‘Come, make us gods that shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’” How could they have forgotten so soon? They had seen the miracles, they had heard the voice of God, and they had promised to do what God asked. But they became forgetful hearers.
My encouragement to you is not to be a forgetful hearer of the word of God. When you hear the word and when you read the Bible, do what the word says. James says that you will be blessed in what you do.