James 1:22 – “But be doers of the word and not hearers only deceiving yourselves.”
Paul stands in front of the philosophers in Acts 17 and makes a bold declaration, “in Him (Jesus) we live and move and have our being, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘for we are His offspring’”. He says to them we exist for Jesus and because of Jesus. In other words your lives are not your own. There is a reason for your existence, God has created you, and as such your are accountable to Him. That was a bold declaration then because those philosophers wanted to believe that they were free to live however they chose. Many of them were in fact using their intellect to try to discover what life is all about. It is a bold declaration today because most people in 2018 don’t like to believe that they are accountable to anyone.
The word that he uses for poets is actually a word that means “doers” and it is the same word that James uses in James 1:22 when he says, “be doers of the word.” James is saying you are accountable to God so don’t just listen to His word but put His word into practice. The word actually means to put forth your fullest creative efforts toward something. In Acts a poet is putting forth their creative efforts into philosophy and writing. They are active, they are doing. James continues that theme when he says put forth your full creative activity toward following the word of God.
A couple of things should be noted here. First off it is important that you listen to that word. “don’t be hearers only” implies that you are listening to the word. You spend time listening when you read it through the week, you spend time listening in Bible study, and you spend time listening as God’s word is preached. Listening is not dismissed, listening is important. But once you listen don’t just sit back and do nothing. Actively follow God’s word and put what you hear into practice.
Christianity is an active faith. It is not a faith for sitting on the sidelines and watching. A person who is a follower of Jesus gets involved with carrying out His will and doing His word. If you just listen and think everything is ok you are deceiving yourself. You may be listening for knowledge or you may be listening because it makes you feel good. You may even be listening because it makes you feel better than someone else, but the goal isn’t just to listen. The goal is to put into practice what you hear. It is important to learn, even though that knowledge should never make you feel superior to someone else, but you have to put what you learn into practice. If you don’t you have deceived yourself.
That is a strong statement. Deceiving yourself means you may think you are a Christian but in reality you are not. A true follower of Christ puts God’s word into action. In fact they put forth their fullest efforts to put the word into action and walk in obedience. They will still stumble and fall but because they LISTEN to the word of God they know what to DO – they repent and ask God to strengthen them to overcome. They ask Him to change them as they live for His glory. So let us be not just hearers of the word but let us make our focus putting God’s word into practice as we do live for His glory!