Kids have occasionally been known not to listen to their parents, causing quite a few Moms and Dads over the years to say something like, “Did you even hear what I told you? Are you listening to me?”
We know they heard what we said, but they didn’t really hear. Curiously, for some reason it applies mostly just to unpleasant tasks like picking up their stuff or taking out the garbage.
Hearing is different from hearing and doing.
I wish I could say we grow out of it, but we don’t.
That’s what James is talking about here:
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).
I’m guessing James had preached a few sermons in his time, and he’d probably noticed that some of his hearers enthusiastically complimented him on his message.
“Great job, preacher!” “That really touched my heart.” “I needed that.”
Then they even more enthusiastically forgot it within half an hour.
Have you ever done that?
Of course you have, and James wants us to see that following Christ is more than just hearing the word.
It’s more than being a daily Bible reader.
It’s more than memorizing a dozen verses, or having a daily quiet time, or even teaching a Bible class.
It’s about doing.
It’s about obeying.
It’s about living.
It’s about hearing the word and then trying our best to do exactly what the Lord told us.
It’s about being a doer who acts and not a hearer who forgets.