Be doers of the Word

Published 8:00 am Sunday, August 14, 2022

“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” — James 1:22, NKJV.

Our departed brother James offers sound instruction for those of his day as well as for us today when he says “be doers and not hearers only.” For many the routine is to go to Church on Sunday and “hear” the preacher’s sermon. Then to consider whether or not it was a “good” sermon, or one that could have been much better. Satisfied with the critique, they wait for the next service to render their verdict again. These “hearers only” are those Jesus spoke of in Matthew 13:14-15, those who hear and do not understand because they do not apply to their own lives what they have heard from God’s messenger. Listening to a sermon and ignoring the message is like asking for a great recipe and then ignoring the ingredients and instructions — the outcome will not be good.

We may deceive ourselves into thinking that we have done our part in coming to Church and listening to the preacher, but until God’s word has been absorbed into our heart, we are “hearers only.”

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When we hear God’s word proclaimed we are bound by that word and responsible for allowing it to change us. Our assessment of the sermon may or may not be “good,” but if it is God’s truth that is preached, we are bound by it to be doers of that word. To do otherwise is to deceive ourselves into thinking that we have done what is right, when, in effect, we have done just the opposite by hearing only God’s message to us. It matters little whether or not we approve of the message, or the messenger; our “duty” is to hear and recognize God’s word, and to be obedient to it.

The fact that we are able to lead others to believe that we have great understanding of all things spiritual, does not relieve us of the admonition from our brother James. We are to do as the word says, live as it instructs us; we are not given authority to reject the message nor the messenger simply because we are offended by what we have heard, or by who said it. We make fools of ourselves when we do so.

Rev. Bobby Thornhill is a retired Methodist preacher.