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.

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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. Hayley Wilson says:

    Being a doer of the Word and not just someone who sees it and walks away is such a big theme at my church home. We hear it so often, but it is so easy to forget, especially when faced with tough or annoying situations. This text is always convicting, so I’m always glad when I see it and am reminded to be a doer in action and with my voice and emotions.

  2. Maiya Howard says:

    James continuous to come at such the right time – when I’m needed to be reminded of the power of my tongue. But I also love this reading today, as it reminds us to not just be hearers of the word but to also be doers. It’s not enough to just hear, but to do – all this reading I am doing, to know His word will mean nothing if I am not doing what it says. That is also wisdom.

  3. Kasie Ellsworth says:

    This was so encouraging and to the point! My tongue and anger have always been a struggle but I’m ready to sacrifice my pride and self-serving attitude for humility and love.

  4. Charity Lackey says:

    The Word is a mirror to my soul. A tool that should be used daily to excavate the rotting sin hiding away in the crevices of my deceit and sin. Holy Spirit, May we all value your correction and open ourselves up entirely to your work in us. Every stronghold shall be broken by the blood of Jesus. Amen.

  5. Tanyah Hope says:

    I struggle with how to live in a worldly world and live by God’s word as a doer. Lately, I’ve been surrounded by new friends that aren’t Christians so it doesn’t really help in certain matters. Not to say you can’t have friends who aren’t Christians, but it feels like I can’t be real with what I believe in…or trying to work on and developing my relationship with God. It makes me feel like a hypocrite with a lot of the social changes lately, but I’m just on the fence about everything and figuring it out. This scripture helps though.

    1. She Reads Truth says:

      Hi Tanyah, thanks for sharing. We’re praying for you now- for continued encouragement and comfort during this time. We’re grateful for you! -Margot, The SRT Team

    2. Jessica Hagen says:

      Hey Tanyah, I know you posted this a while ago, but I am just completing this plan and saw your comment. It resonated with me as I had a similar experience a few years ago. My “primary” friend group changed, and most of them were not Christians. I struggled with the very same things, as I wanted to be a light, wanted to have fun, and wanted to continue to grow! I really struggled with the balance, and found myself engaging in things that quite honestly weren’t me and definitely weren’t of God.I agree that we need to be in the world, and we do. We need to have non Christian friends in our lives. One thing I did poorly during my season of this is that I somewhat strayed from my Christian friends. I am not sure if that is what you’re experiencing, but my only recommendation would be to make sure you maintain both groups of people. Those who you can be a light too, as well as those who you can be a light with. I hope that makes sense. I don’t regret choices I made, as I know he is the great redeemer and will use my story, but I do regret time I lost being near to Him. I will continually pray for you and ask the Lord to use you in your relationships with your non-Christian friends to draw them closer to Him as well. You got it sister! Thanks for vulnerability and sharing.

  6. Nicole Moore says:

    This really opened my mind and heart. I am just a vessel for his good works to be done. I am his!

  7. Shaina Lee says:

    I’ve been dealing with a lot of pain and talking back but mostly being a hypocrite. The book of James has definitely help shape me to become a better believer and more Christ-like. I think before I act and I ask God for forgiveness. It’s definitely hard at times but I always think about what would Jesus do.

  8. Rebekah Jarboe says:

    I am a very selfish conversationalist both in regular and in deep, meaningful interactions. If the topic is not me I tend to tune out the other person even though I say I value their feelings and experiences. God please give me the desire to listen to and enjoy other people the way you have called me to!

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