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. When we look into the mirror of God’s Word we see our shortcomings, but we must do something about them. God’s mirror reveals our spiritual flaws, our moral failures and our secret sins. But he calls on Christians, not just to be hearers of the Word, but to be doers (Jas. 1:22-25).
Bible commentator Warren Wiersbe put it this way. “It is not enough to hear the Word; we must do it. 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. “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,” wrote Ron Jensen.
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.
They have forgotten, as D. L. Moody once commented, “The Bible was not given for our information, 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.”
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 Scriptural exhortation and admonition is clearly and succinctly expressed: “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (Jas 1:22). Jesus is our great example. While He was the Master Teacher, Luke records that He “went about doing good” (Ax 10:38). Jesus was a doer.
Discipleship is about doing. Doing our best. Doing what we can do. Doing what God desires for us do. Doing good. Doing our duty.
There’s an old poem by my favorite author, Anonymous, that expresses the point this way:
Two brothers once lived down this way:
One was Do, the other was Say.
If the streets were dirty, the taxes high,
Or the schools were crowded, Say would cry,
“He does it wrong. I know that I
Could do it right!” So all the day
Was heard the clank of bother Say.
But this one fact was never hid”
Say always talked; But Do always did.
Don’t deceive yourself. Listening to the Word or talking about good deeds is not enough. Putting it into practice should be our purpose.
Be a doer.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman