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Listening and Doing

Listening and Doing

Words of Faith 4-20-2020

Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2020

Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL

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James 1:22-24

        Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.  Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.


      We probably live in the most "Word rich" generation of Christians in history. Yet, we are among the most spiritually impoverished.  The Word of God has never been more available, more interpreted, and translated in all of history.  We have the Bible in multiple versions, computer searchable, online access, set to music, and even playing 24 hours a day with beautiful pictures on television.  But none of that wealth of Word makes any difference if we only listen and never do the Word.

       At the center of all that James teaches is the call to "do what it says.”  This simple phrase sums up the message of the whole book.  Put into practice what you profess to believe.  It is not enough simply to "listen to the word" or even merely to read it. Those who congratulate themselves on being hearers of the truth are deceiving themselves. If they assume that this is all that is needed, they are sadly mistaken.

       If we think that merely listening to the message of God earns us a position of special favor with God, we are duped by our own faulty reasoning. In reality, the responsibility of those who hear is far greater than that of those who have never heard. If we do not combine doing with hearing, we put ourselves in a most vulnerable position.

       The problem is that we are quick to see what that mirror of the Word shows only to dash away without applying the soap and water also there that can make our faces clean!  We are correctly diagnosed by the Physician, but we are without prescription or cure even though the medicine is readily available and offered freely.  You see, nothing reveals who we are more than this Word.  Nothing confronts our facades and illusions more than an encounter with Him.  Nothing reveals the deepest needs of our lives more than this Word and then actually fills those needs.  

        Interestingly, the Greek verb katanoeo does not describe a hasty glance.  It refers to careful observation. It is attentive scrutiny of an object. So, the man carefully studies his face and becomes thoroughly familiar with its features. It is the same with the person who listens to the Word, apparently not momentarily but at length and attentively, so that he understands what he hears. He knows what God expects him to do. Any failure to respond cannot be blamed on a lack of understanding.

        The problem is that such a man "immediately forgets what he looks like."  It is a case of "out of sight, out of mind."  Despite the thorough scrutiny of his face, he forgets what it was like!  This seems ludicrous, of course, but no less ludicrous than the believer who listens carefully to God's truth and does not remember to put into practice what he has heard.

         Listening to truth is not an end in itself any more than gazing at one's face in a mirror is an end in itself. The purpose of listening to truth is to act upon it. Knowledge that is only theoretical spiritual truth is never commended in Scripture. In fact, it is discouraged and condemned. Biblically, knowledge is inseparably tied to experience. The believer gains knowledge through experience, and his knowledge is intended to affect subsequent experience.

         Think about this.  At the most profound moment in history, the Word became flesh in the person of Jesus Christ. But that Word also becomes flesh each day when we submit to that Word in our lives.  We become the living Word, the Body of Christ.  It begins with a day that starts in the Word and becomes a day with the Word in you.

         So how about it?  Take a look in that Word mirror.  What do you see?  Some spots you had been missing with the washcloth?   How about that stuff stuck on your teeth?  Isn't it about time to clean up? 


            Lord Jesus, I desire to walk in obedience to You and Your Word.  Show me the places that have grown dirty with neglect and wash me with Your Word. Give me the courage to not walk away.  In Jesus' Name.  Amen.

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The Words of Faith devotion is published five days a week by E-mail, and our website, and our church app, excluding Federal holidays. Please feel free to forward this devotion to a friend who might be blessed by this devotion. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture is quoted from the New International Version (R) of The Holy Bible. Copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved. Words of Faith (c) 1997, 2010 Jeffrey D. Hoy. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to forward this copyrighted material or use portions of it with appropriate notation of the source for non-profit purposes.  

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