If I'm being completely honest, I've claimed to be a Christian for the majority of my 29 years on this earth. But when I really look back at my life, I've been a very luke-warm Christian. Most of my relationship with Christ has been one sided - me expecting Him to bless me if I lived my life the way that I thought He wanted me to.
My time spent with Him usually consisted of skimming through the Bible while being distracted by social media or my racing thoughts about everything I needed to accomplish that day. I rarely ever removed distractions and created an environment that was suitable to really dive deep into the Word and hear what God was trying to teach me. Everything was so passive. After my quick, unproductive quiet time was over I would begin my day as usual, rarely thinking twice about what I read or how I could apply it to my daily life. The box was checked, I had done my part, now bless me, God.
Recently, I've been convicted about where my faith ranks on my priority list and have wanted to change my ways. It’s funny how God has given me the perfect opportunity to do this with the COVID-19 pandemic removing medical students from clinical settings and eliminating the majority of my medical school responsibilities, providing me with more free time than I am used to having.
During this time, I've been reading James, one of my favorite books of the Bible, but this time I wanted to study the Bible like I study for my medical school exams. My relationship with God should be more important than the grades I receive on school exams. I dedicate hours upon hours to anatomy and physiology but am ok with only spending minutes each day with the God of the universe. That’s messed up. I want to be more than a hearer of the Word; I want to be a doer.
James 1:22-24 says,
“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 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.”
I don’t know about you, but that word deceiving hit me right in the gut because that is exactly what I have been doing - deceiving myself. I've read this verse many times and realized I didn’t want to see what I saw in the mirror. I wanted what I was currently doing to be good enough, when deep down I knew I was robbing myself of what God really has for me. Hearing the Word without action is self-deceptive, while hearing the Word with action is a blessing.
Being doers of the Word, and not merely hearers, is the only proper response to the Word of God, allowing it to permeate our souls and establish deep roots in our lives. When we look in the mirror and see imperfections or things that are fixable, common sense says we should do something about it and not turn a blind eye and pretend it isn’t there. This should be our approach when we read the Word as well. If we don’t take what we read and apply it to our lives how are we supposed to further His kingdom and influence non-believers? So, how do we take our faith to the next step and transform from hearers to doers? Verse 25 tells us:
“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.”
Doing takes a lot more work than just hearing, and James is telling us that we are going to have to persevere if we choose to do the things that God tells us to do in His perfect law. There will be hardships, struggles, rejection, and pain, but we can know in our hearts that we are working to further the kingdom of God - what we're all called to do - and we will be blessed in our doing. Obedience is the hallmark of a true child of God, and obedience requires action.
Full disclosure, I was scared to write this. Writing has never been a strength of mine and I've always struggled with effective communication. But this is one way I feel like I can start doing for the Lord and use stories from my own life to help further His kingdom. He works all things for good in our lives and nothing is wasted (Romans 8:28), so why not use my struggles and victories to help others? Action takes time and isn’t a skill that’s developed overnight. My advice? Start small by applying one thing you learned during your quiet time each day and begin to experience the blessings that God has intended for you. Let’s be doers together. There’s not a more perfect time to start than now.