May 3, 2012

Being Doers of the Word, Not Just Hearers (Book of James)

This blog post is based on the Bible Study James: Pearls for Wise Living by Jeff Cavins. Here are my previous posts based on this study:

"Therefore put away all filth and rank growth of wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls."
- James 1:21 

Now, when Thomas and I were doing our "homework" for Bible study, we were wondering why we are supposed to receive God's Word with meekness, as we kind of thought it had a little bit of a negative connotation. Come to find out, it's really not a negative quality at all.  It basically means that we need to receive the word with a humble heart.  This is crucial because it enables us to be teachable and open to God's will.  The example we were given was of Pharoah in Exodus 7:10 when he continued to pridefully resist against God until his heart eventually was hardened.  If we do not listen to the word of God with meekness, the same thing will happen to us and we will eventually not even be able to hear what is is trying to tell us.  

So often we hear something really inspirational, whether it is through going to a lecture, a Bible study, or just reading an article online.  We feel really excited and fired up about what we just learned, and we think about it for the next few days and then kind of just forget about it as the spark dies down.  I know I am guilty of this! Or better yet, knowing what God would want you to do in a certain situation, but not doing it anyways.  

Well, here's what James has to say about that in verses 22-25: "Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deluding yourselves.  For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his own face in a mirror.  He sees himself, then promptly forgets what he looked like.  But the one who peers into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres, and is not a hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, such a one shall be blessed in what he does." 

Basically, Jeff Cavins said that James is comparing a mirror to the truth found in the word of God.  A mirror is able to reveal to you what looks good about yourself, as well as what you need to work on. If you wake up looking really rough one morning with a bed head, look at yourself in the mirror and acknowledge that you look pretty bad, then head off to work or school for the day, it was really pointless for you to look in the mirror.  You also typically forget about your appearance as you go through the day.  God's word also reveals the truth to us, and it helps us to see what we are doing right and what we need to work on.  It's pointless if we just hear it and acknowledge it, but then go about our day in the exact same way we had before.  Jeff Cavins wrote "You are deceiving yourself if you think you are better for having done so.  It is the one who looks and perseveres, or acts on what he sees, who will be blessed." 

As I mentioned in my last post, God revealed himself through his words and deeds, as did Jesus.  Jeff Cavins also gave dozens of examples from the Bible of people who acted on what God wanted them to do, including Abraham, the Virgin Mary, Moses (Exodus 3), David (Samuel 16), Noah (Genesis 6), and many, many more.  They all had to act in order to do what God wanted.  

We are deceiving ourselves if we do not act on the word.  Are we really and truly Christians if we hear things from the Bible, believe it, but then make no effort to act to make that change in our life?  

What this means for me:
Like I said, it's really easy for me to hear something or read something from the Bible that really resonates with me.  It's a lot harder to turn around and put that principle into action.  I need to start asking myself questions when I read a passage from the Bible or when I feel really inspired by something I hear.  Is there a situation in my life right now that I can apply this to? What is the best way to do so?  Also, I think I need to make sure I am applying it to all aspects of my life: "in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done, and in what I have failed to do," as we say at mass. And then I need to ask God for help with it.  



  1. What a great message! I agree - I'll read something and it will really hit home but I have a tough time putting it in to action. I love your last sentence about asking God to help us with this - I think that is key! I hope your exams are going/went well!!

    1. So true! Thank you so much! They are over and ended up going well. Have a great weekend! :)

  2. Right on point. I'm so glad to have read this tonight. I struggle because I know what God wants me to do in most situations but DOING is much harder especially when I don't ask God in the moment to help me. I agree with are spot on in your last sentence. We must learn to ask! John 14:12-14 speaks of this. It was one of the Scripture readings today.
    God bless!

    1. Thanks so much for sharing that verse! That's such an encouraging reminder that we can do anything with the help of God.