“But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.” James 1:22
This verse has been coming up frequently in my life recently. Every once in a while a Bible verse or principle seems to follow me around. It will come up in sermons, books I happen to be reading, and conversations. It seems like the Holy Spirit is making sure I will never forget it and what it means. After a while it gets though my thick skull that maybe I should pay attention to what it is saying to me.
So right now, James 1:22 happens to be the verse I can’t shake off. I find this verse (well really the whole book of James) very convicting. I’ve been wondering, ‘Am I a doer? Or am I a hearer?’ I guess I know in my heart that I am, for the most part, a hearer. But James makes me desperately want to be a doer.
Let me back up and explain; a hearer is a person who probably goes to church, learns about the Bible, and believes it. The hearer puts their faith in God, but doesn’t let their faith change the way they live. They are stuck living the way they always lived: for themselves. Essentially, it is impossible for anyone to tell the difference between them and a non-Christian simply by their actions.
However, a doer is a person who learns the word and allows it to change them from the inside out. The doer is a person who treats others as Jesus would have treated them. They are a living example of the fruits of the spirit in Galatians 5 (Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control). The doer lives for others, sharing their faith with everyone they come in contact with through their words and actions. James expands his point in the rest of the chapter ending with these instructions in verse 27:
“Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” James 1:27
Many people have taken this passage the wrong way and use it to promote a works- based gospel. This means they believe they NEED to do good things and follow the law in order to be saved. This is what they believe a doer is, someone who follows the law and the commandments. But we can never achieve salvation on our own. The gulf of sin between us and God is too great. Salvation comes through faith in Christ alone. Paul makes this very clear in Ephesians:
“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9
Our sins need cleansing and no amount of tithing, feeding the poor, or honoring your father and mother can save you.
You are probably thinking, ‘If I don’t need good deeds for salvation, then why should I bother?’ To be honest, I have struggled with the same question for a long time. What I have come to learn is, even though doing good things and obeying the law is not required for salvation, it is still necessary for living the spiritual life to the fullest. Helping people and following God’s commands are expressions of our love for Him. Through our actions we glorify Him and we show His love to others.
So go do something! It doesn’t have to be a big something either! Often it’s the little things that add up to make someone a doer!
If you want to learn more about becoming a doer please read Love Does by Bob Goff. It is an awesome read and really shows how becoming a doer of the word can change your whole life and make it more amazing!
“What we do in love will last; all the rest will blow by like it never even happened.” –Bob Goff