“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” ~ James 1:22
Explanation of the Text: “Never in the history of the United States has there been so many people attending church, ‘the church of their choice,’ as today. These crowds are mixed: those who hear but let the Word go in one ear and come out the other, and those who hear and do. Those who do are those let the Word come through both ears and descend to the heart, affecting their whole life and behavior.
James does not say to not hear the Word only, but rather says not only should you hear the word, but you should be a doer of it. In other words, there is a need to hear the Word, and then also respond by doing something with it. As previously discussed, in Biblical times, the word was not written. Instead, the people had to rely on their teachers in the synagogue, usually traveling teachers. One’s ability to learn the Scriptures, depended on their willingness to listen to the Word being taught. But James is expanding on that idea, telling them to not only hear the Word of God…..do not just sit in your synagogue on the Sabbath and listen to what is being taught, but actively put it into practice.
Unfortunately, the church today has adopted a complacent attitude, one that does not require people to be doers. People continue to mislead themselves or others into thinking that God does not require full commitment to Him. Thus, there is much self-deception within the church in which people call themselves Christians, but are not following God’s word at all. This is the point of James inclusion of the phrase ‘deceiving yourselves.’ It is a dire warning to people. “If a profession of faith in Christ does not result in a changed life that hungers and thirsts for God’s Word and desires to obey that Word, the profession is only that – a mere profession.”
Examination & Application of the Text: Faith is active and calls believers to do something. In this case, every believer is called to do the word. Even more so, James does not say here to just do the Word but rather to BE DOERS of the Word. The fact that James words it this way indicates that it is simply not a process of doing something, but rather, being a doer is how one identifies themselves. The word infuses into every aspect of living for a doer of the word, because that is who they are. Obedience to Him is meant to infiltrate every aspect of living. Whatever a person thinks, whatever a person says, whatever a person does is meant to be guided by the Word of God and the Word of God alone. This call to be a disciple is a call to obedience that if one fails to do is sin. James 4:17, if someone knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. The right thing to do is to follow the Word of God, which here in James 1:23 is to be doers of the Word. If you are not a doer you are in sin! James is issuing a call to every believer that their lives is to be characterized by obedience to God’s commands.
Therefore, as the previous verses have established a need to seek the word, the need to receive the word, now there is need to act on it. As you endeavor to be in the Word of God on an everyday basis, now seek to apply. Actively think about the ways that you can take the text and put it into action in your life, through specific circumstances, conversations, and events. It is not simply an understanding of the text that you should seek, but it is also a reaction to the text. As you sit and study, take time to make some action points, being specific to list ways that you can, and will, put the text into action in your life. This must be part of your daily study, daily devotion, and should be part of every instance that you are in the word of God.