Hearers and Doers
James 1:22 ¶ But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves.
James 1:23 For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror;
James 1:24 for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like.
James 1:25 But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act—they will be blessed in their doing.
There is a distinct connection between hearing the word of God and engaging in the word, becoming “doers.” The problem with those who only “hear” is that they tend to go to worship services on Sundays and listen to a fine sermon — maybe even compliment the pastor on the message — but then they just go home and live the same way they always have lived. They forget what they have heard, or it simply goes in one ear and out the other.
We are called to look into the perfect law of liberty. What is that, or perhaps we ought to ask, who is that? Jesus is the ultimate and perfect law of liberty and so we are to look into him, the incarnate Word and partake together with him. Yes, Jesus preached, but he also went about doing good! Therefore we must be imitators of Christ who are called to action, not just to hearing. We must participate together in Christ, living out the Word in the world today. An active participator with Christ is continually compelled to be a doer of the word for they are continually compelled to be transformed into the likeness of Christ.
We stood in the entryway to the Asda (Walmart) store and sang a series of Christmas carols to all those who were entering and exiting the store. On this Saturday afternoon there were great throngs of people in a continual flow that walked by our little crew of singers. There were Muslims and Hindus and Christians and probably those with no faith at all that stumbled into our path that day. We were just singing songs and through the lyrics sharing the Christmas story. Members of the team were standing around with buckets collecting donations for St. Anne’s Hospice. Amazingly people from all spectrums of faith listened and participated. The women in the head coverings smiled as they heard the Christmas carols and plunked in a donation. Others were humming the tune under their breath as they heard familiar songs being sung. Somehow a small band of Christians was touching a little corner of Asda.
I met the man who had invited us to come and sing at the store. He’s a “doer” of the word, having been called out into the world to make a difference. Intentionally he’s gotten a job at the store so that he can be a reflection of Jesus Christ in the midst of the world. This is his goal. Having touched so many lives there at the store the management recently asked him to officially become the Chaplain of the store! Can you imagine, chaplain to Walmart!!! He wasn’t satisfied with being a hearer of the word, he had to go and do — and so on a cool December afternoon because of the genuineness of his faith, he could invite friends to come and sing Christmas carols in the store.
What is not lost on me is the respect that each of the faiths in that community has for the faith of another. We were singing Christmas carols in a store where about 50% of the population is Muslim. And yet, the people listened, smiled and some donated. Didn’t the incarnate Christ come as “The Prince of Peace?” Therefore we are called to also be peacemakers by our doing. It should not matter what religion our neighbor might be — we are to share the peace of Christ and sometimes this part of this nature seems to be forgotten in the push and shove of our lives.
What would happen this Christmas season if all of God’s children would reach out in peace to their neighbors? Yes, even that neighbor who has been unkind to you — or the neighbor who doesn’t believe the same way that you do! It may not even have to do with religions beliefs, but with political beliefs. Reach your hand across the fence and be friends! Be a DOER of the word and not just a hearer.
Unfortunately there’s lots of talk we can listen to these days and very little of it brings us to a place of action that leads to peace. Let’s embrace these words and allow the peace of Christ — “the perfect law of liberty” to set us free to be doers of the word, taking the living word out into the world.
Lord, please help me to always be a doer and not just a hearer. Amen.