Doers And Not Hearers Only : James 1:19-27

Know this my dear brothers; everyone should be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath, for the wrath of a man does not accomplish the righteousness of God. Therefore, put away all filth and evil excess and humbly welcome the word that has been planted in you and is able to save your souls. Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves.For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his own face in a mirror. He sees himself, then goes off and promptly forgets what he looked like. But the one who peers into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres, and is not a hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, such a one shall be blessed in what he does. If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, his religion is vain. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to care for the orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained by the world.    James 1:19-27

In this last part of the first chapter of James’ letter, he gives us a list of a few dos and don’ts again concerning perseverance. And, as we read this section, let us keep the parable of the sower in mind (Matt.13:3-9).  

James brings this parable to mind here, when he reminds us that the word has been planted in us. But as with a regular garden, we have to pull weeds, spray for insects, fertilize and water in order to keep the garden healthy. Would the same not be true for the garden of the wordthat we’ve received?

James commands us to put away all filth and evil excess, to pull out the weeds that are springing up in our garden, hampering the growth of the word in us. Hampering this growth is potentially deadly to our souls. We need to humbly welcome the word this word which is able to save your souls, accepting it and conforming to it.

Acting in this way, is being doers of the word and not hearers only. The word is the Gospel and the Gospel calls us to change otherwise we’re  deluding ourselves.

When we look in the mirror, we must remember what we look like. What does James mean by this? If we hear the word only then we’ve forgotten the purpose of the word we’ve received; in other words if we’re a child of God, we need to act like it!

When we live out the Gospel (loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and loving our neighbor as ourselves) then we will be blessed in what we do in those acts of love.

We must remember however that this blessing is dependent upon our action, one who peers into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres and is not a hearer who forgets but a doer who acts.

Alright now, what is the perfect law of freedom? The perfect law applies to the Mosaic law as described in the Old Testament. The law of freedom refers to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. James combines these two titles to show we have fulfillment of the Mosiaic law in Christ. This is why Jesus would say, “Do not think I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.” ( Matt.5:17) Jesus calls us to keep the commandments of God and His grace allows us to do so. At the same time His grace continues, when we in our humanity, fall short and sin. He makes up for us in His righteousness, what we lack in our righteousness. Again we see the both/and principle. We see that it’s a cooperative effort between God and man.

God’s grace is His own gratuitous initiative and depends entirely on Him (CCC 1998) and at the same time is a participation in the life of God (CCC 1997). So even though God’s done all the work, we still have work to do! We have to act responsible to His law.

So this week, let’s review the “10 commandments” and do a good deed for someone. Maybe for the sake of “religion that is pure and undefiled before God” we could do that good deed for widows or orphans, how about that? Let’s let “our light shine before others that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.”( Matt. 5:16)


6 Responses

  1. Great post!

    I llke to use the analogy of marriage. If I love my wife then I will be a doer of that love, not just a sayer. If I only said with my lips, “I love my wife!” but never acknowledged with my actions this proclaimed love for her, then she can only assume that I do not really lover her.

    If I never consider her before myself – if I never do anything for her – If I never hug her – if I never hold her or kiss her – If I never make love with her – If I never listen to her thoughts – If I never do the things she asks of me – then do I love her?

    God simply desires a real love relationship with us. Give and take – back and forth – to and from – deep – honest – loyal – thoughtful – loving relationship!

  2. Thanks Joe.
    What a great analogy marriage is, too! Because both are Covenants. The Marriage Covenant and the New Covenant are acts of freely giving of ones-self to the other (which is the nature of a Covenant).
    Christ freely chose to give His life for me (us), I (we)freely chose to respond to Him, just as you stated above.
    Thanks for the input and the reminder of the importance of words and actions through your analogy.
    Christ be with you,

  3. “How about the idols in your Roman Catholic Churches? Why are they still there? Is it not a commandment not to make graven images and bowing – worshipping to them?”

    There are no idols in my Church. There are however, statues of great saints throughout history there helping to remind us to persevere in the faith as they did. We also ask that they pray for us to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit for our needs, for strength in trials, just like I ask my brothers and sisters here on earth to pray for me and my family.

    “And your post contradicts what your Roman Catholic church preaches.”

    No, my post doesn’t contradict the teachings of the Church. If you knew what the Church’s true teaching was you would know that. Instead, you choose to live in ignorance and deny the truth, you are acting like the Pharisees in this matter; hearing and not listening.

    “Are you the doer of God’s commandment or the doer of your Roman Catholic traditions?”

    Yes! I am a doer of God’s commandments! I [try to] love God with all my heart soul mind and strength, and [try to] love my neighbor as myself. And what do you know, that’s exactly what the Catholic Church teaches me I should do!

    elman, we could go back and forth endlessly on this. I don’t know your story, so I don’t know exactly where you are coming from.
    If you’ve read any of my story here, then you would know that I’ve studied church history and was lead from the Baptist “tradition” to the Catholic faith through the Holy Spirit’s revelation in scripture, history and much prayer.
    Just a reminder; The Holy Spirit at the Council of Carthage in 367 A.D. lead the Church that Christ founded, to put the Bible together,as you know it today. So when you quote scripture, remember, you are quoting Catholic Tradition.
    All God’s blessings to you!

  4. You are the deceived and the fraud, elman. For you have set yourself up as the pope of the church of elman and gone against the Authority of Christ (I Tim. 3:15).
    Good-bye and good riddance!

  5. Tim, Great post. It kind of drives home (grand slam?) today’s Scripture reading.

    Peace in Christ.

  6. That was kind of neat, the way that worked out ain’t it?
    God bless.

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