Be Ye Doers of the Word
Preachers are supposed to preach and teach the word. And we are to hear it with joy and in hearts. I also like to read good theology and articles from journals that deepen my understanding. In fact, I read the Bible everyday (well, I may miss a few here and there).
But does any of this affect my life? Does any of this sink into my heart and compel me to change? Do I obey the words of Scripture as God’s words spoken directly to me? Yes, the Holy Spirit uses the word to birth us unto salvation. But that same Spirit also intends to use that same word to mold us and shape us into the image of His dear Son. And it is my task to hear and meditate and, most important, apply that word to my life. And not just those verses that encourage and edify me but those that tell me what to do for my neighbor.
And here is where James words particularly sting. He compares one who hears the word but does not do it to one “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.” How many times do we read the word in the morning and forget what we read by the time we reach the parking lot at work? We did not ponder it, chew on it, take it into our hearts, and we certainly did not plan how we would apply it to our lives throughout the day.
James then makes a very telling statement: “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 speaks here of the word of God—and the law of God as well—as being “the perfect law, the law of liberty.” Without the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit within, the law of God is a dead letter for us because of our sinful natures. But when we come to saving faith in Christ, his law becomes our delight (Psalm 119: 70, 77, 92, 174). Loving God and our neighbor is not our burden but our liberty. Obedience frees us from slavery to self and our passions. We discover the joy of denying ourselves and our petty desires for the cross and the Kingdom. Nothing dissatisfies the believer more than navel-gazing and focusing on self. He will ask where the needy widow is who perhaps only needs company or the child who needs someone’s time and love. This is the law of liberty written all over the pages of the Old Testament and now understood through Christ, and this is the Christian’s liberty and his joy.