Imagine a person who wanted to be a backpacker. To go out into the wilderness for days at a time. They might buy and devour the latest books on backpacking. Does that make them a backpacker? Clearly not. But what if they made a trip to REI, or their favorite outdoor shop, and bought all of the needed equipment? Good, rugged, and lightweight equipment. Are they a backpacker yet? Nope, not yet. So imagine they take the next step and set up all of their equipment in the backyard. Spending the night out and cooking a few meals. Are they there yet? No, not yet.
A backpacker is one who actually loads all of the gear into a backpack, steps out onto the trail, and journeys out into the wild. Anything short of that is just wishful imagination. Nor can you be a marathon runner until you have actually run a marathon. Or a computer programmer unless you are actually writing actual code for an actual computer.
In the same way, you should not consider yourself a disciple of Jesus unless you are willing to follow him. Reading his word to us, the Bible. And then doing what it says.
Be a Doer of the Word
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 someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.James 1:22-25 NIV
James has some very pointed comments directed at those who will read God’s word, but not put it into practice. He says that they are deceiving themselves. They think that it is enough to just read it. They may believe that they are ‘good enough’ the way they are without conforming to the Bible’s teaching. Or they may see its challenging teachings as no longer applicable. But, for whatever reason, they fail to do what it tells them to do.
James compares this person to one who looks into a mirror. But after he has looked and turned away, he forgets what he saw. This is the person who looks into the word of God, reading what it has to say. But as soon as they close it, they forget what they have read. And, forgetting what they read, they fail to do anything with it.
But blessed is the person who not only reads the Bible, but also meditates on it, remembers what it says, and then practices it. For this person, the word gives freedom. Freeing them from the shackles of this world’s way of being. Freeing them to be holy and godly. Be doers of the word, not just hearers.