Exploring the Book of Ya’aqov, Pt. 7
Therefore, having put aside all filthiness and superabundance of evil, in humility be receiving the ingrafted word that is able to save your souls, and become doers of the word, and not hearers only, thereby deceiving yourselves. Because if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, this one has been likened to a man viewing his natural face in a mirror, for he viewed himself, and went away, and immediately forgot what kind of man he was. But he who looked into the perfect תּוֹרָה, Torah—that of liberty—and continued there, was not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of action. This one will be happy in his doing. (
יַעֲקֹב Ya’aqov1:21-25, mjlt)
The word of truth—that sweet, sweet, powerful sound—lies dormant and useless before us. We sit. And listen. And hear. We revel in the sound it makes, and it stirs us up… inside. Though we invite it in and absorb its perfection, it ultimately does nothing but serve as fodder for our minds’ feeble and fruitless activities. The word is rendered wholly weak and inert… unless and until the time we begin to put the word into action.
With the best of intentions and the humility of hope, many of us start our walk toward obedience by making room for the word in our lives. At great displeasure to our selves, we “put aside all filthiness and superabundance of evil”—turning our backs on sin and the ongoing corruption of our souls—and in its place, receive the word. But then, the ingrafting having taken hold, too many of us mistakenly believe that the work is over. Sadly, the saving word, now firmly set in place where it may begin its eternal work, remains unactivated.
This is the great deception that we perpetrate upon ourselves: simply receive the word—accept the Messiah—and you will be changed. But this oversimplified thinking reveals the false expectation that passive belief in or acceptance of God will result in a dynamic transformation of our lives. No wonder so many who name Yeshua as Messiah walk away before any change has a chance to take place. We have failed to realize that the word of truth demands not a passive but an active response—that is, we must “become doers of the word, and not hearers only.”
When many of us hear the word, it generally makes sense to us, it rings true, it inspires us, offers us hope, gives us direction, brings us comfort, determines our values, instills our beliefs, and marks the boundaries for our acceptable, godly behavior. But unless the hearing is followed instantly by the doing, then what we have heard will just as quickly be forgotten. It is as futile, ridiculous and sad as “a man viewing his natural face in a mirror, [who] went away, and immediately forgot what kind of man he was.” We do not stare into a mirror merely to view our own enchanting reflection, but rather to see ourselves as we are in reality reflected to the world. How useless does that mirror become if what we see does not show us who we are?
But the mirror that is the word teaches us that we do not normally see ourselves as we truly are. Our self-perception is naturally and mistakenly formed by how we view ourselves apart from the word. But when we look intently into the word and continue there, it sets us free to see not only the truest reflection of ourselves, but how we presently reflect the truth of God. It is through this mirror that we may peer most deeply into ourselves, and as long as we do not walk away, we will never forget what it shows us, but will instead be compelled to act upon it.
As a “doer of action,” every disciple of Messiah must move beyond the passivity of a believer into the activity of a follower. To activate the word of God in our lives, yes, we begin with inspiration, devotion, meditation and study; but then, we must transcend and move beyond the feeding of our hearts and minds, and enact the word with our hands, feet and tongues. To be our true selves, we must actively apply the word not just in our thinking, but by the transformation of those thoughts into obedience to the word. For indeed, “this one will be happy in his doing.”
What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments below!