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Christians, for the most part, want to impact the world for Jesus. We are well intentioned folks who genuinely want to help others. Unfortunately some end up hurting more than helping.
Why? Because we are hearers of the Word but NOT doers!
“But prove yourselves doers of the word [actively & continually obeying God’s precepts], and not merely listeners [who hear the word but fail to internalize its meaning], deluding yourselves [by unsound reasoning contrary to the truth].” James 1:22 AMP
I’ve known Jesus since I was 7, but officially received him at 16.
And promptly went about telling everyone they needed Jesus too. Did they? Absolutely! Was what I was saying true? You betcha!
But I didn’t know what I didn’t know.
I had never learned to apply my carefully memorized verses to my own life. I never internalized the Word.
I spewed the Word at people like a fire hose expecting that to clean them up and inspire them to come to church with me.
But that isn’t what happened. I got eye rolls and people closing up and shutting me out. I even stopped being invited to parties with one group of friends.
I had the exact opposite effect as I intended. I came across as judgmental. Bossy. Mean. Pushy. I was a hypocrite. I expected other people to submit to verses I hadn’t applied to my own life, and in some cases hadn’t even read.
Within one year of my salvation I was so frustrated that I rebelled fully and completely. I told God His rules were crap and I was going to life my way.
Why was I frustrated? 1. I focused on the rules and trying to be a perfect person. And it was exhausting. 2. Not one person was changed for the better, despite my preaching at them.
Jesus never asked me to do that. That was all me. Jesus just wanted to love me and heal me. But I was not open to anyone mucking around in my personal business. Besides Jesus has bigger things to worry about than me, right?
It took 8 years for me to come back to Jesus. Then 3 more years for me to begin to open up and actually let Jesus in.
And another few years after that to see that Father God wanted a relationship with me, and that He really loved me. He was for me and not against me.
So now about 25 years after I was “saved” I finally get it. I have a real relationship with Jesus, Father God, and Holy Spirit. And I understand the way to help others, obtain wisdom, and change the world is to internalize the Word in my own life. Let it heal me and change me. Let The Word shift my perspective until I see like Jesus sees, and to love the way Jesus loves.
Point to ponder while you wander…the Word is powerful. It doesn’t return void but accomplishes what the Father sends it forth to do. So don’t just skim it and forget it! Internalize it! Apply it! Live it! That’s what the prophets mean when they talk about eating the Word.
“When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear Your Name, Lord God Almighty.” Jeremiah 15:16 NIV
Deep Thought of the Day: Being a doer of the Word is actually loving God.
I woke up this morning hearing this: “Just do it, Jill. Just do what I told you to do.” This made me think of James 1:22, “Be a doer of the Word, and not hearers only.” Being a doer simply means you apply what you hear to your everyday life.
Here’s James 1:22-24 in NLT: “But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like.”
When I first started learning about God’s grace and mercy it seemed like a contradiction to what James talks about. On one hand you have the verses about resting and letting God do the work, then on the other hand you have be a doer of the word and faith without works is dead. So which is right?
They both are. God’s Word never contradicts itself. We are supposed to rest in God and partner with Him. But our part of that partnership is obedience to the Word of God. Meaning you apply the Word to your life. It’s that simple.
What I find most interesting about being a doer is that God actually links our choice to obey His Word with our love for Him.
Jesus says in John 14:15, “If you love Me, obey my commandments.”
He says in John 15:10, “When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.”
I John 5:2-3, “We know we love God’s children if we love God and obey his commandments. Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome.”
Now before you start scrolling on back to Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy for all the laws and requirements. Remember that Jesus gave us only two commandments: ‘”You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”” Matthew 22:34-40
The point is that when we walk in love and act in love, we are being a doer of the Word. When we are being a doer of the Word we are being obedient, growing, maturing and loving God all at the same time. Many birds, one stone.
Word Nerd Note: The Greek word for ‘hearers only’ is akroates. In classical Greek times akroates was used to describe people who audited a class. (Taken from “Sparkling Gems from the Greek” by Rick Renner.) These were people who went to lectures for entertainment.
A Biblical example of these akroates would be the people Paul preached to in Athens (see Acts 17). They were all about listening to what Paul had to say and learn about this “unknown god” but when it came down to accepting Jesus and living for Him, sadly they passed.
FYI: Today’s Bible Version is the New Living Translation (NLT)