“But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” (Ja 1:22 NKJ)
Most Christians read James 1:22 as their marching orders to DO WORKS.
We must DO things to please God, to prove we are believers, earn rewards in heaven, maintain our salvation, etc.
If you don’t DO – then figure you will be deceived about the security of your salvation.
Doer Versus Grace
How does grace fit in all this religious doing? It doesn’t.
What do we do with – being saved by grace through faith, and not by works, lest there be boasting? (Eph 2:8)
Remember, when Jesus was asked by His disciples, “What must we do to do the works of God”? Jesus answered, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.” (Jn 6:28,29)
Hmm, is ‘believe’ a work?
But James said we must be a ‘doer’. What do we do with that?
Religion came to the rescue to tell us what to do.
Traditional Religious ‘Doer’ Meaning
• Pray a lot
• Read and study the Bible
• Memorize scriptures
• Worship God
• Weekly church attendance
• Serve and participate in church activities
• Be accountable
• Witness to unbelievers
• Get people saved
• Tithe and give offerings
• Observe the rituals
• Do good deeds
If the above list exemplifies a doer, then what is a hearer? Religion to the rescue again.
Traditional Religious ‘Hearer’ Meaning
Religion would say a ‘hearer’ is one who goes to church, listens to the word preached but forgets the sermon message and doesn’t personally apply its points. But they like to feel good or justified for a while from what they heard.
The religious institution would explain a ‘hearer’ is not committed to the Lord or the church.
Religion would say a ‘hearer only’ is a surface believer. Religion might even say a ‘hearer only’ is not a believer!
Religious Christianity values doers over hearers. They have to, it keeps the doors open.
True Meaning of Doer and Hearer
To understand the ‘doer’ and ‘hearer’ words, in James chapter one, let’s look at their Greek meanings.
doer – Greek poiétés – (poy-ay-tace’) – a maker, poet, a doer, carrier out, performer
Poiétés is the word from which we get poet. So when you read ‘doer’ think of a creative person, a sensitive person, someone who has heightened awareness of themselves, their surroundings and others. They have empathy and compassion. Consider a performer – be it visual or verbal – expressive, desirous and able to touch others’ lives.
hearer – Greek akroatés (ak-ro-at-ace’) – a hearer of, a listener to
A hearer is a good thing. Jesus said multiple times, he who has ears to hear, let him hear. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God Christ (actually ‘Cristos’ in the Greek = Christ Jesus). If we truly listen and hear we will be hearing of things about Jesus and listening to what He has to say about who the Father really is and who we really are.
The Father even said, this is My Beloved Son, listen to him! Looks like that Word made flesh has important things to say and for us to hear, not do.
Hearer Is A Doer
In truth, James 1:18-25 is a beautiful picture of a grace-drenched hearer-doer. When you really hear the fullness of the Gospel you can’t help but be a doer!
• Many Christians struggle with am I doing enough good works or are they the right good works. This ‘works’ mentality is driven by fear and guilt. Not good. Not God.
• Believe in Jesus – that is the only ‘work’ Jesus Himself said is doing the work of God. To fully believe is an incredible place of trust, confidence, and rest. What a place to live from and ‘do’ from.
• You’re a poet and don’t know it! It’s part of the fullness of your true identity.
P.S. Next post we will go look more closely at the verses in James 1:18-25 which point to the wonderful law of liberty that releases us as true ‘doers’.