As believers, we have multiple opportunities to read and hear the Word of God. There are church services, books, tapes, CD’s, television, radio and internet preaching. Our problem comes in responding to it. In James 1:22-25 we receive very clear directives regarding how to respond to the Word properly. The principle is clear in verse 22. We are to be doers of the Word. This is a present imperative and implies a continual action. We are to continually be doers of the Word. This deals with what we are as opposed to simply what we do. Jesus taught the same principle in Luke 11:28. The Old Testament taught the same principle in Deuteronomy 25:58; 29:29. When will we finally realize that simply listening to the Word is not enough? To listen or read the Word but not respond to it is to “delude” ourselves. In other words, we think we are growing spiritually but our faith is actually superficial unless we “do” the Word.
James addresses the problem involved in verses 23 and 24. Hearing the Word without doing the Word is likened to a man who looks at himself in a mirror. Mirrors in that day were made of highly polished brass or bronze and gave a somewhat distorted appearance. After inspecting himself in the mirror, once he leaves the mirror, he no longer can remember what he looks like. As a result, he no longer remembers what areas need attention and subsequently no improvements are made. To listen to the Word but not obey it results in no spiritual improvements being made in one’s life
The profit in being a doer of the Word is seen in verse 25. Here James describes the one who is a doer, not just a hearer of the Word. This person looks intently into the Word. The word “intently” was used of Peter stooping down to get a better look in the empty tomb (Luke 24:12). The same word was used to describe John’s investigation of the empty tomb (John 20:5) as well as that of Mary Magdalene (John 20:11). Peter used this word to describe angels investigating the glories of salvation (I Pet 1:12). James calls this person an effectual doer of the Word. This describes one who remains in the activity and gives full attention to it. This man, James says, will be blessed in all of his ways.
When we become doers of the Word and not just hearers, verses 26-27 tells us how the Word then changes our lives. It changes our conversation with others. The word “religious” speaks of the external acts of one’s religious faith. To do external acts of religion but not be able to bridle one’s tongue is self-deception. Though this person may congratulate himself on his piety, this in reality is worthless religion. The Word also changes our concern for others. There are proper externals which includes sensitivity to the needs of orphans and widows. This was a common theme of the Old Testament (Exodus 22:22; Deuteronomy 10:18; Ps 68:5) as well as the New Testament (Acts 6:1-6). Finally, The Word changes our conduct before others. Another external showing of real faith is the pursuit of personal holiness and avoidance of spiritual contamination. When James speaks of the “world,” he is writing of our present world system with its values and practices which are currently under the power of the Evil One (John 14:30; I John 5:19). This week you will hear the Word. The question is, “Will you do what you hear?”