Doers of the Word
Imagine this: You wake on a Sunday morning and need to get ready to go to worship. You go into the bathroom and look in the mirror and see several things that need attention. First, your hair is a mess. It looks like a family of rats decided to make a nest in it the night before and left in the morning after throwing an all-night party. Second, your teeth definitely need a brush, because you forgot to do it the night before and that fuzzy, yellowish film needs to go. Third, you have a smear of chocolate on your cheek where you ate a messy candy bar the night before and did not wash your face. (Sure, most of you would never go to bed in such a state, but it’s just an illustration.) After seeing all these things that need work, you leave your bathroom, put on your Sunday clothes, and go to worship. When you get there, it dawns on you that you forgot to comb your hair, wash your face, or brush your teeth. You saw yourself in the mirror, but you didn’t do anything to fix your appearance.
Most of us understand that we simply would never do that. If we see something in the mirror that needs fixing, we fix it. But did you know that the Bible uses this same illustration to talk about what happens when we read God’s Word? In James 1:23-25, we learn about a person who hears God’s Word but does not do it. The Bible says that person is just like someone who looks in a mirror and “goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.” Instead of being just a hearer of God’s Word, we must also be doers.
The Christian Life is a Life of Action
Many people misunderstand what being a follower of Christ is all about. They believe the value of their Christian life is mostly about what they don’t do. When they are asked what it means to be a Christian, they say things like, “I don’t steal, I don’t murder, or I don’t cuss.” While it is true that Christians should avoid all these things, it is also true that there is so much more to being a follower of Jesus than what we don’t do. For instance, we could go outside and get a rock from our yard and ask these questions: Has this rock ever stolen anything? Has this rock ever said a cuss word? Has this rock ever gotten drunk? The answer to all these questions would be “No,” but none of us would say the rock is a Christian.
A huge part of living the Christian life is about what we do—what actions we take, and what positive impact we are making on the world. In Acts 10:38, we read that during Jesus’ ministry on Earth, He “went about doing good.” If we are going to follow His example, we will be active doers
of good things
Confucius versus Jesus
Confucius was a religious teacher who lived about 500 years before Jesus came to Earth. He once made the statement,
“Do not do to others what you do not want done to you.”
This sounds similar to the statement Jesus made in Matthew 7:12,
“Whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them.”
In fact, some unbelievers have accused Jesus of copying Confucius. When we seriously think about the statements, however, they are very different. According to Confucius, all you have to do is avoid doing bad things to people. If you don’t like getting punched in the stomach, don’t punch people in the stomach. If you don’t like getting stolen from, don’t steal from others. To follow Confucius, you could live all by yourself in the middle of the woods as a hermit and follow his instructions.
Jesus’ statement, however, is a positive statement that demands action. If you like it when people are kind to you, then you must be kind to others. If you wish someone would sit at your table at lunch when you are by yourself, then you should go sit with those who are by themselves. You can’t live like a hermit away from people and follow the instructions of Jesus.
The Good Samaritan Takes Action
When we read the story of the good Samaritan in Luke 10:29-37, we learn that a man had been beaten and left on the side of the road to die. Jesus explained that a priest came down the road and saw the man lying there. What did the priest do? Did he punch the man? No. Did he kick dirt on him and call him names? No. What did he do? Nothing, he just kept walking. A little while later a Levite saw the man as well. He ignored the man and kept walking just like the priest did. Finally, a Samaritan came by, saw the man, and took action. He actually did something to help the man. He put medicine on him, bandaged his wounds, and took him to an inn where he could be cared for. The Samaritan is the hero of the story, because he took action to help.
In 1 John 3:18, we read, “My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.”
Talking about doing good things, reading God’s Word and learning about doing good things, and even intending to do good, does not matter if we don’t ever do good. We must be “doers of the word and not hearers only” (James 1:22).
The End of Time
In Matthew 25, Jesus describes what will happen at the end of time. He explains that all people will be divided into two groups—the sheep and the goats. The sheep will be on His right hand. They are the people who were faithful to God. The goats will be on His left hand. They are those who rebelled against God. Jesus explained that He will say to the sheep: “Come, you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was in prison and you came to Me” (Matthew 25:34-36). Jesus then said that when these righteous people did good things to other people on Earth, they were actually doing good to Him. The wicked “goats” were rejected because they did not do these good things to people while they were on Earth. Notice that Jesus invites the faithful followers into heaven because of the actions they took to obey His will. They put into practice the things that He taught them. They “went about doing good” just as Jesus did while He was on this Earth.
What Are You Doing for Christ?
So, the real question is, what are you doing for Christ? Of course, we must study the Bible to learn what He wants us to do. But studying it is not enough. What actions are you taking to fulfill His mission? Are you telling other people about the saving blood of Jesus Christ like He told us to do in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20)? Are you being kind to others at school? Are you looking for ways to help poor people and those who need food or clothing? Sure, there are things we need to avoid in this life, but one of the most important questions is: What Are You Doing?
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