Each of us has experienced a moment when something was wrong with our outfit or appearance. We may have even gone the whole day without noticing and then feel embarrassed when someone finally told us. We have all seen people with toilet paper stuck to their shoes, the tag of their shirt sticking up so that is is visible, a man accidentally forgetting to zip his pants or a place that was missed while shaving. We would like to believe that if someone let them know what was wrong, they would fix it. After all, we would. It would be silly not to – right?
James writes, “For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.” (James 1:23-25, ESV)
Through reading Scripture, the image of Christ is revealed to us, and we are able to see the ways that we fall short of his glory. It shows us things that need to be corrected and changed through the power of the Gospel. When we read it, we should see things in our lives that we are not doing or that we are doing wrong. This is the heart of 2 Timothy 3:16-17. It is meant to be a tool for correction, teaching, and training. When we read it, the Holy Spirit should move in our lives with conviction; we should repent and conform to the image of Christ.
James is speaking about the difference between a hearer and a doer. A hearer is one that reads Scripture or learns about God, yet there is no change in his or her life. The hearer is told that something is wrong, but does nothing about it. They are content with the toilet paper on their shoe or accidentally leaving their pants unzipped. It is just as silly not to allow things in our spiritual lives to be fixed.
On the other hand, a doer is one that allows the written Word of God to chisel away at the sin and transform their lives in a way that is pleasing to God. They look at Scripture, see the desires of God, and through confession and repentance embrace the required change. Are you a hearer or a doer? The first requires reading and listening skills only. The latter involves faith and submission to the will of God.