“Doers of the word, and not hearers only” (James 1:22)
The Epistle of St. James starts by speaking regarding trials, their necessities, and overcoming them. I had the incredible blessing this past weekend to meet a person that knew exactly what it meant to be in trials, the gifts of overcoming them, and the blessings that follow afterwards. During our conversation it became very apparent why many of the saints ask for trials in their life, so that through them they may become more pure and precious; sharing in the life of Christ.
In verse 21, St. James speaks regarding the heart. One of my favorite verses is “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45) Which is why St. James states to us to lay aside any dirt, to clean our hearts and purify ourselves, to consecrate our entire being to the Lord, so we may “receive the implanted word.”
St. James then continues regarding being doers and not hearers. Reflecting back at that time period, we know that the epistle of St. James was one of the first epistles to be written, therefore there was no physical word that is written by pen and paper. The word that St. James is speaking of is the word of tradition that is passed on from one generation to the next. This explains why he said “hearers” not readers. Our orthodox church prides itself in the keeping of the traditions from one generation to the next.
“For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.” (James 1:23)
I am not in the habit of wearing watches, I usually just use my phone in order to check the time. But many times I catch myself taking my phone out, in order to check the time, and find myself completely forgetting the time just a minute later. Many time we are careless, and only just pay enough attention in the moment. It’s like someone who dripped ketchup on his shirt while eating some fries, he goes to the mirror to see where the stain is, but forgets to wash it off. And that is exactly what we do. Each of us knows what they need to do, we know right from wrong, and we decide not to fix ourselves. We reflect on the word of God, we measure ourselves up compared to Him and His gospel, we listen to heart-moving lectures and sermons, then forget to wash ourselves. Becoming hearers of the word, and not doers.
We must look at our lives as a journey with Christ, following His footsteps. There will be trials and there will be difficulties and there will be stains all over our lives, the question that matters is if we’ll return like the prodigal son and be washed, or stay in our filth?