Day 2

Both Hearing and Doing

from the James reading plan

James 1:19-27, Proverbs 10:19, Ephesians 4:26-27, Romans 5:20

BY Guest Writer

Scripture Reading: James 1:19-27, Proverbs 10:19, Ephesians 4:26-27, Romans 5:20

I’ve always been a little uncomfortable while getting my hair cut. Perhaps it’s my nervousness that I’ve directed my stylist the wrong way, or that the color we picked won’t work at all with my skin tone. But beyond the anxiety that comes from letting someone else take control for a few hours, there’s a measured amount of discomfort that comes from looking at myself in the mirror for that long.

Every blemish seems to glow under the lights of my local salon. My eyebrows seem significantly more unruly than I thought they had become, and the makeup I had so carefully applied hours ago has mostly melted away, revealing the oh-so-telling dark circles under my very tired eyes.

And yet when I leave, somehow I always feel so much better. I’ve been transformed—or at least my hair has.

It is transformation and the confidence that comes with it that James is urging us to seek through the reading of the Word. Of course, it’s much less superficial and quite a bit harder than sitting in a salon chair. James tells us that when we hear the Word of God and don’t act, then we are just like a man sitting in front of a mirror, seeing all his blemishes and yet walking away without caring, without doing anything.

If looking in the mirror is hard, looking deep into the Word of God is harder— especially when reading James’s words. They reflect back to me my own anger, my quickness to speak, my moral failures, my pride.

But being transformed by the Word means becoming a doer, not just a hearer. It means inviting the Holy Spirit to carve out those ugly places and fill them with the righteousness that Jesus gives, so that I might live out what James calls a “pure and undefiled religion” (1:27). The Word becomes more than a book to me; it is a means of grace, a tool of the Spirit’s sanctifying work in my heart.

Jesus said it this way:

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.  And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.  And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”
– Matthew 7:24-27

Jesus is the Word made flesh, sent to dwell among us. We are called to look daily not into a mirror, but into the Word—into the very face of Jesus.

The gospel-filled life Christ calls us to is not one full of quick and angry words, self-serving pride, or self-sufficiency, but of sacrificial love and humility. We are called to let the Word do its work inside us—to read it daily with fresh eyes as it, by the Holy Spirit, reads our hearts and transforms us, making us more and more like Jesus.


Melanie Rainer is the director of content for JellyTelly, where she writes and edits family spiritual formation resources. She is a graduate of Covenant Theological Seminary, a passionate home baker, and makes her always-messy home with her husband, Price, and their delightful daughter, Ellie, near historic downtown Franklin, Tennessee.

Post Comments (105)

105 thoughts on "Both Hearing and Doing"

  1. Sarah Schumacher says:

    I love what she said about the Word of God reflecting back to us our imperfections. They’re never pretty and I’m certain that it’s behind our every hesitation to read the Bible. Yet if we take the time to humble ourselves, acknowledge the ugliness in our hearts and give it to God, He will make us beautiful.

  2. Michelle Pavasars says:

    quick to listen. slow to speak. slow to become angry.
    I confess that sometimes I am slow to listen and too quick to speak. Lord, you gave me two ears and one mouth. May I listen at least twice as much as I speak. Especially with my husband and my children.

  3. Felicity Rose says:

    I just so happen to be sitting in a salon chair when I was reading this. I really liked the verse about being slow to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger. I’m a good listener but I often give advice that isn’t wanted. And when I’m listening to someone say hateful hurtful things to me I am very quick to get angry and say mean things back. I really need to take these verses to heart, mind and soul. These verses are now very special to me.

  4. Jennifer says:

    That was a good word. When I am a doer of the Word and not just a hearer, I’m letting the Word work in me. I’m letting God work in me. Jesus is the Author and Finisher of my faith, but I have to submit to Him and let Him work.

  5. Morgan says:

    I love the analogy of the mirror and forgetting my reflection. I feel inspired by this passage in a really strong way.

  6. Jennaire says:

    Proverbs 25:11 also fits nicely into this chapter study, reminding us of the blessedness of knowing what and when to speak: ” Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word fitly spoken.”

  7. Heidi says:

    I have read this passage so many times, and every time I read it I am convicted. Applying God’s Word is what will transform my testimony and will allow God to bring blessing into my life. I’m also challenged by verse 26…I don’t want to deceive my own heart, I need to be aware of what comes out of my mouth at all times.

  8. Rachel Rogers says:

    I am so glad that the Holy Spirit transforms me and it’s not just up to me! I fall short in so many ways! I speak too quickly or get angry and let that anger control me but I am reminded as I read His word that there is grace for me and I welcome the sweet conviction of the Holy Spirit. I am thankful for the mirror of God’s word that doesn’t just reflect my faults but leads me by grace to repentance and true forgiveness. I am learning to not speak so quickly. Just this week I started writing down my thoughts and desires in a small journal instead of acting too quickly on them. I am relying on the Lord to walk me through this process of waiting on Him.

    1. Yesica Goblirsch says:

      Sound slime the Lord is doing a beautiful work in and through you. Be encouraged that the Lord is so proud of you! He loves you and your pure heart.

    2. Amber says:

      I like this journal idea!

      1. Allyson says:

        I love the journal
        Idea as well!! Thanks for sharing!

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