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 (108)

108 thoughts on "Both Hearing and Doing"

  1. Kristen Durocher says:

    Melanie Reiner said she was always uncomfortable getting haircuts because of sitting in front of a mirror for 2 hours. I don’t mind the mirror much but I find that I’m a nervous talker which is why haircuts are uncomfortable to me. James 1:19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak…

  2. Kristina Pham-Loo says:

    I really needed to hear this. It’s a good reminder to love on others like Jesus loved on us.

  3. Jaimie Landreth says:

    This was exactly how I’ve been feeling God is working within me. Looking into the mirror and even recognizing those blemishes is hard! Acknowledging them and acting on them is even harder!! I am thankful for James speaking straight facts to my heart and keeping me accountable.

  4. Sarah Tau says:

    Big reminder here for me, especially after this week with my sweet yet independent and first toddler. I have been so impatient and it makes me so sad for herm praying I remember these words this week and thankful tomorrow is a new day.

  5. Steph C says:

    “If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless” (James 1:26). James exhorts believers to be quick to listen and slow to speak. Proverbs tells us that sin is found in a multitude of words. Not that it is wrong to talk. But it is easy to say the wrong thing when we are talking mindlessly. My mouth reveals what is truly in my heart. If my tongue “gets me in trouble” or causes me regret, my heart is the true problem. My words are just a symptom of the underlying bitterness, anger, worldliness, etc. Oh Father, search my heart. Cleanse me from every wicked way. Let the words of my mouth be pleasing in YOUR sight, O Lord … my Redeemer.

  6. Lydia says:

    Thank you for being transparent in your comment above. I’m praying for you today.

  7. Megann Swiers says:

    Lacking confidence is a common theme as a teenage girl. But being reminded to stay firm
    on the rock of Jesus i know I will not fall because my foundation is rooted in him.

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