What Do You "Do"?
“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22). I find it quite instructive that James uses the noun “doers” in this statement rather than the verb “doing”. Continue reading . . .
“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22). I find it quite instructive that James uses the noun “doers” in this statement rather than the verb “doing”. It is one thing to be doing the Word, a little here and a little there, a bit on Monday and a bit more on Thursday. It is altogether something else to be the sort of person who is so characterized by and known for righteous living, day in and day out, that you are rightly called a “doer” of the Word.
In other words, the noun “doer” suggests someone whose routine habit in life is the performance of what he believes to be right and true. These are people who make the “doing” of God’s Word the business of their life. It is their job, their hobby, their passion all wrapped up into one. Doing what God has commanded permeates everything about them: their values, their words, their conduct, their relationships, the way they use money, their sexual behavior, everything!
We often start off a conversation with someone we don’t know well by asking: “So, what is your occupation? What do you do?” Typical responses are: “I’m a teacher” or a “lawyer” or a “salesman” or a “stay-at-home-mom” or a “student” or something similar. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could without the slightest degree of arrogance and pride answer that question by saying: “I’m a doer of God’s Word”?
Note well. He doesn’t say that all you are is a “doer” of the Word. You must first be a “hearer”. It is possible to be a “doer” only just as it is possible to be a “hearer” only. To be a “hearer” only leads to arrogance and pride and self-sufficiency and an argumentative attitude. But to be a “doer” only leads to self-righteousness and self-reliance and often times to theological heresy.
Is there a priority in the two? No, but there is a proper sequence. One must first “hear” before he can properly “do”. If you start doing before hearing you’re likely to end up thinking that Christianity is little different from the social activism in our world. You may end up doing the wrong things and for the wrong reasons! You have to know what is right and good and eternal lest you end up doing things that are wrong and bad and transient.
But James wants us to understand that if we stop with hearing we are little more than overblown brains, big heads whose hearts are shrunken and whose souls are small.
Sometimes we fall into the trap of supposing that thinking about what is good is the same as the doing of what is good. We are deceived into supposing that we are less selfish because we admire the virtue of altruism. We think because we admire humility that we are for that reason alone less proud than others. We do not achieve virtue or goodness in life merely by paying tribute to such values and confessing their absence in our hearts. They have to be seen in our lives and in how we relate to others.
So let us labor in God’s grace to be diligent in the “doing” of all that God’s Word commands.