doers of the word
Biblestudy, Growing your faith, The book of James

Living Out Your Faith: Exploring James 1:22-25

Have you ever looked at yourself intently in a mirror? Perhaps you were checking for any difference in your facial skin tone, looking out for any unusual changes in your body or just simply basking in self-admiration. However, what you see in the mirror is simply a reflection of the person standing right in front of it. Who you are is what you will eventually reflect to the world as a Christian? How are you living out your faith in today’s world? Exploring James 1:22-25

Introduction to James 1:22-25

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. – James 1:22-25

The book of James is often considered as one of the most practical guides for Christian living. The author does not only leave us with rich wisdom, he also uses many figures of speech to communicate his message on Christian living, attitudes and conduct. The text in James 1:22-25 can be categorized into these three points.

1. Hearing Vs Doing

Hearing the word is not enough. You must put it into action in your life as a believer. Mere listening to the word equals self-deception. It must go beyond being sentimental in your hearing, or being puffed up with its knowledge or even trying to choose what you hear to suit your desires. It is the application of the word in our lives that changes our behaviour and makes us more like Christ.

2. The Mirror Analogy

Just as a mirror shows you what you look like, looking intently into God’s word will show you your true identity in God and spiritual condition. Many times, we forget who we truly are in Christ because we do not act upon what we have seen in the word.

3. The Perfect law of Freedom

God’s word will liberate you as you embrace it and live according to what it says. James says that looking intently into the word does not only bring you freedom, but as you continue in it as a habitual practice and do what it says, you will be blessed.

Also, these few verses in James 1:22-25 get us thinking about an important truth in our lives as believers.

Are we just hearers of the word and mere listeners? Are we believers who hear the word every Sunday but still fail to internalize and apply it to our everyday life? James says to us, that beyond being just being hearers of the word, we must become those who do what God says in his word. We should be believers who live out our faith before an ever-changing world every single day.

What Does it Mean to be Doers of the Word?

Firstly, James lets us know that people who hear the word without doing what it says are practicing self-deception. They are only fooling themselves.

To do the word is to take what God says in his word and apply it to different areas of your life. However, it all starts with knowing what the word says. Like the saying goes – you cannot give what you do not have. If you do not know what is in God’s word, how can you do what it says.

Jesus, in one of his sermons, uses a beautiful illustration of two houses and their foundations to teach us the difference between hearers and doers of the word. The doer of the word is called a wise man, whilst the one who hears and does not do the word is called foolish and has no solid foundation.

Therefore, whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall” – Matthew 7:24-27

How deeply rooted are you in the word? The person who builds his life on the foundational truth of God’s word will always be secure in times of trials and distress. He not only hears what the word says, he daily works what the word says into his life and puts them to practice in all areas of his life. The rains and floods come, the winds blow and beat against him hard, yet he is still standing. Why? He has built his life on a very strong foundation by being a doer of the word.

To know God’s word is not enough. You must take the word and put it into action in your life, family, business and ministry. What does God’s word say about worry, loving others, fear, work and parenting? Take those words and apply them to your life and situation. This is what James tells us in James 1:22 – “be doers of the word, and not hearers only”. It was more of a command than instruction. Let the world see you live out your faith in a very active way.

How to be Doers of the Word

Being a doer of the word starts right where you are. It starts in your relationships, family, workplace and home. Sometimes, it may be difficult, but you do it anyway, because God expects it from you and says so in his word.

Right now, I look back at the scripture of Stephen being stoned to death and his response in the face of untold hatred, wickedness and persecution of his faith. He was an active doer of the word until he breathed his last on earth.

“And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.”Acts 7:59-60

A dying Stephen lived out what it means to be a doer of the word as he prayed for his enemies in the face of death. The words of Jesus to his disciples are put into action in the life of one man as he looked death in the face. “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.” – Matthew 5:44-45

Today, those same words and many other scriptures are available to us as believers to put into practice. Let’s look at some tips on how to become a doer of the word.

1. Receive God’s word with meekness

In the preceding verse before our text scripture, James asks believers to humbly receive the implanted word of God because it has the ability to save our souls. The New living Translation tells us to humbly accept the word that God has planted in your hearts. God’s word has the ability to transform not only our thoughts but our entire lives.

Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls – James 1:21

What does your attitude look like when you hear or receive the word of God?

Are there things in your life stopping the word from gaining deep roots in your heart?

Do you embrace the word of God with a submissive heart knowing that it has the ability to change your life?

Submission begets obedience and obedience equals doing what the word says. And in this place, the blessings of God will flow. But it must first begin with willingly receiving the word into your heart, embracing the wisdom, truth and counsel found in the word and letting the Holy Spirit do his work of renewal and transformation in your mind and life.

2. Treasure the word of God

The Psalmist in Psalm 119:11 says – “Thy word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against thee.”  The word ‘treasure’ has the following synonyms: cherish, place great value on, be devoted to, keep carefully and value greatly. The writer was simply saying that he places great value on the word that is in his heart so that he may not sin against God.

Do you cherish and value God’s word greatly? Are you devoted to filling up your heart with the word of God and doing what it says?

Another famous bible character tells us in Job 23:12“I have not departed from the commandment of His lips, I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food”. Job placed greater value on the word of God than his physical needs. He was a doer of God’s word. God himself testified about him calling him an upright man who feared God and shunned evil. After all, Jesus tells us in Matthew 4:4 – “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out through the mouth of God”. I love how the passion translation puts it.

“It takes more than bread to stay alive. It takes a steady stream of words from God’s mouth” – Matthew 4:4 TPT

God’s word is not just a box full of treasures, it has the capacity to transform your life and change your story. Spend time to feed your inner man with loads and loads of scriptures from the word of God.  Don’t just know the word, be that person who places great value on the efficacy and power of the living word of God.

3. Look into God’s word attentively

Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.. James 1:23-25

When you look into the mirror, it shows you what you look like. When you look intently into the word of God, it can show you parts of you that you never even knew existed. That is the reason why God’s word can liberate a man from the shackles of sin, alcoholism and depression, and at the same time chastise and put you back in line when you seem to be straying from God’s path.

James uses the mirror analogy to teach us about what it means to be hearers and doers of the word. With the hearer, there is no intentionality about what he is hearing. He never acts on what he hears. It simply goes in through one ear and goes out through the other ear. This person, though a believer will never come into the fullness of his identity in God and enjoy the blessings and full benefits that are his in Christ.

As believers in the world today, we need to move from just receiving the word to letting the word saturate and permeate our entire being.

James tells us to look intently – with earnest and eager attention at the word of God. This means looking at the word of God with keen interest, great observation and attentively. It means looking steadfastly and letting the Holy Spirit open up your heart and inner man to behold deep things from the word of God.

Jeremiah said – “Your words were found, and I ate them, And Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart; For I am called by Your name, O LORD God of hosts.”Jeremiah 15:16

He found the word and ate it by internalizing its truth and miracle working power. As believers in today’s world, we need to constantly eat the word of God in meditation, prayer and moments of deep contemplation. We need to chew on scriptures daily, ruminate on them, digest and assimilate them into our minds and entire being. When we do, what is within begins to reflect on the outside. Our actions come into alignment with what we have understood from the word of God. Then we move from just being hearers who forget what they look like in the word to doers of the word who are shining the light of Christ all around them.

6 Practical Steps to Live Out Your Faith

What image of you would you want the world to remember? James encourages us to move from being hearers to doers of the word. Because in doing, you are living out your faith before a watching world and through your words, actions and life, others can encounter the person of Jesus. Here are 6 practical steps to help you live out your faith in today’s world.

1. Incorporate bible reading, scripture memorization and meditation into your daily and weekly routines

2. Cultivate godly character by developing the fruits of the spirit in your life and let the Holy Spirit renew your thinking.

3. Apply biblical teachings and principles in your everyday decisions and learn to seek God’s guidance and counsel always.

4. Show love and compassion through acts of kindness, service and giving to bless and help others.

5. Embrace a lifestyle of prayer to connect with God and to seek his guidance at all times. Be intentional with your prayer life.

6. Cultivate godly relationships by joining faith-based communities to grow your faith and hold yourself accountable.

How to be a doer of God's word

Challenge to Apply James 1:22-25

1. In what ways can you act out your faith this week? Is there someone you need to forgive? Is there a friend you need to reach out to with some words of encouragement?

2. How can you move from hearing to doing in your Christian walk today? Have you been trapped in self-deception as a hearer of God’s word? What can you do to change that narrative in your life?

3. What are those things that you can start doing today to help you internalize the word of God? Scripture memorization, scripture journaling or praying scriptures. Pick one and focus on it for a month.

Prayer

Father, I thank you for the insight and wisdom from your word in this text of scripture. Release me from the hear only syndrome and move me into that place of deep understanding and internalization of your word. I ask for a meek heart that receives and embraces the truth and power of God’s word. I will keep gazing intently at your word. I will continue daily in affirming its truth and power. I am a practitioner of the word. I always do what the word of God says by the help of the Holy Spirit. Amen!

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