A woman rushes to see her doctor, looking very much worried and all strung out.
She rattles off, “Doc, take a look at me. When I woke up this morning, I looked at myself in the mirror and saw my hair all wiry and frazzled up, my skin was all wrinkled and pasty, my eyes were blood-shot and bugging out, and I had this corpse-like look on my face!
What’s wrong with me, Doc?”
The doctor looks her over for a couple of minutes, then calmly says, “Well, I can tell you one thing . . . There’s nothing wrong with your eyesight!”
Looking in the mirror won’t correct your problems, but it does show they exist. However, seeing they exist and actually doing something about them is two different things.
James, the brother of Jesus, vividly makes this point in his book using the analogy of a mirror. In one of the great verses of the Bible he states this principle: “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (Jas. 1:22)
It’s important to look into the mirror of God’s Word to see our shortcomings, but we must do something about them. God’s mirror reveals our spiritual flaws, our moral failures and our secret sins.
“It is not enough to hear the Word; we must do it,” writes Bible commentator Warren Wiersbe. “Many people have the mistaken idea that hearing a good sermon or Bible study is what makes them grow and get God’s blessing. It is not the hearing but the doing that brings the blessing. Too many Christians mark their Bibles, but their Bibles never mark them! If you think you are spiritual because you hear the Word, then you are only kidding yourself.”
Sadly, too many Christians are kidding themselves. While regular Bible reading is important, and knowledge is vital to making correct spiritual decisions, it is wasted effort without putting it into practice. Ron Jensen expressed it this way, “There is nothing as pathetic to me as someone who is filled with knowledge and either does not know how to apply it or just won’t.”
Faithfulness in Churches is often gauged by attendance. Consider a person who attends Bible study on Sunday morning and Wednesday night. They attend worship services on Sunday morning and evening. They belong to a special study group that meets weekly, and another one that meets monthly. They come to all the gospel meetings, week-end series, and lectureships. Plus they maintain a daily Bible reading plan that they religiously follow. Yet, there is no evangelistic outreach, little ministry, and glaring personal flaws in their life.
While this may sound almost blasphemous, the last thing some Christians need is another Bible study. What they need is application. Action. And activity. William A. Ward was right when he wrote, “It is not enough to own a Bible, we must read it. It is not enough to read it; we must let it speak to us. It is not enough to let it speak to us; we must believe it; it is not enough to believe it; we must live it.”
“The Bible was not given for our information,” said D. L. Moody, “but for our transformation.” Or in the words of Howard Hendricks, “The goal of Bible study is not to make us smarter sinners, but to make us more like our Savior.”
Don’t deceive yourself. Listening to the Word is not enough. Putting it into practice should be our purpose.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman