"Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls. But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does." (James 1:21-25)The key to receiving the word of God in our lives is to make room for the word of God in our lives. There was a time when the Pharisees came to ask Jesus why it was that, "The disciples of John often fast and offer prayers, the disciples of the Pharisees also do the same, but Yours eat and drink." (Luke 5:33) Jesus explained to them that there was something new going on and those who wanted to receive of the new thing God was doing must be prepared to receive it in a new way. He told them, "no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled out, and the skins will be ruined. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins." (Luke 5:37-38) Jesus was doing something new and, if the disciples of John and the Pharisees wanted in on it, they could not receive it the old way. If they wanted to receive what Jesus was doing then they needed to present to Jesus new wineskins for filling.
Some of us fail to receive the word of God implanted in our hearts because we have not presented to Him new wineskins to hold His word. Our lives are already so full of "stuff" that there is little room for God and His word in our heart. If we want more of God's word them we must begin to empty out our hearts, starting with filthiness and wickedness. The remains of our old way of life can crowd out the word of God; our old life keeping us from our new life. Let us first cleanse our hearts, make room for the Word of God, then let us receive it humbly and meekly from His Spirit that by it we may grow in newness unto Him.
However, making room for the Word of God is not sufficient in and of itself. Once receiving the Word we must act upon the Word. This act is not only unto obedience but also an action towards change. The word of God not only prompts us to action but it also prompts us to change. However, both require an actual doing of the Word not just a hearing of the Word.
The word that James uses for "doer" and "does" means a performer, especially a poet. James paints a picture of one who performs the poetry and those who sit idly by listening to the poetry. How accurately this portrays the conditions of many of our churches today. The pulpit had been moved from-and-center on the stage and the seats for the congregants are arraigned like an auditorium. Every Sunday, people file in to sit and hear the Word expounded; their praise and critiques apportioned as the performer works his trade. Rows and rows of people hearing, but few actually doing.
When we are content to merely hear the word, we delude ourselves. We become the willing participant in our own deception; hearing and understanding the word but turning a blind eye to its import in our lives. We judge ourselves by what we hear and not what we do and in doing so deceive ourselves as to what kind or sort of person we really are. The word of God reveals to us the kind of person we are and promises hope of change and sanctification. However, we leave content in the hope of change without actually putting the word into action in order to secure the promised change.
It is time for us to leave our seats and take our place on the stage; to become performers of the word not just hearers only. It's time to stop deceiving ourselves that change will "just happen" and to put into action the words that have the power to produce change. It is time to be doers of the word.