Hearing and Doing (James 1:22-25)

First Baptist Church https://fbcbartow.org

“Hearing and Doing”

(James 1:22-25)

Series: Living the Faith [on screen]

Rev. Matthew C. McCraw, EdD

First Baptist Church, Bartow, Florida

November 26, 2017

Opening Song: Forever


Good morning, church.  Please be seated.

We’re so glad that each and every one of you is here today!

I hope that all of you had a great Thanksgiving!

My name is Matt McCraw and I’m the pastor here at First Baptist Church of Bartow.

I’m glad to see you all.  If you’re a guest, please take some time to fill out the “What’s Up?” card in the bulletin.  You can drop that off in the offering plate later in the service.  We would love to have a record of your visit with us!

This morning we will be in James 1:22-25.  You can go ahead and find your place there for later in the service.

As we come to worship, let’s focus our hearts and minds by turning to the Word of God.

Scripture Reading

Read Psalm 96:1-9

1 Sing a new song to the Lord;

let the whole earth sing to the Lord.

2 Sing to the Lord, bless his name;

proclaim his salvation from day to day.

3 Declare his glory among the nations,

his wondrous works among all peoples.

4 For the Lord is great and is highly praised;

he is feared above all gods.

5 For all the gods of the peoples are idols,

but the Lord made the heavens.

6 Splendor and majesty are before him;

strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.

7 Ascribe to the Lord, you families of the peoples, 

ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.

8 Ascribe to the Lord the glory of his name;

bring an offering and enter his courts.

9 Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness;

let the whole earth tremble before him.



Stand, now, as we continue to sing to our Lord!

(worship through music time)

Introductory Comments:

You’ll want to make sure you are in James 1:22-25.

Opening Illustration:  Has anyone ever had car trouble?  When my wife and I owned a Ford Freestar minivan, I had to replace the alternator on it.  I didn’t want to spend a lot of money doing it, so I watched a YouTube video on how to do it (By the way, you can watch a YouTube video on nearly anything now.  I think you can perform surgery by watching a YouTube video).  Anyways, I watched the video over and over to see what to do; to make sure that I got it right.  Now, if I did not do what the video actually said, the video does not have value to me.  I needed to follow the instruction and do what it said to have success.  And, I did.  And, the alternator was replaced.

This morning James is going to speak to us about hearing the Word and doing the Word.

Let’s read the passage.

Read the Passage

Read James 1:22-25

22 But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 Because if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like someone looking at his own face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of person he was. 25 But the one who looks intently into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer who works—this person will be blessed in what he does.

Let’s pray together.


So, James speaks to us about hearing and about doing.

We will learn this morning that there are two things that we are to be and one that we are not to be.

First of all, you are to . . .

I. Be a doer (v. 22) [on screen]

James says that we are to be doers of the Word.

This is a familiar passage to many of us.

David Platt, president of the International Mission Board, says, “James 1:22 is the theme verse of the entire book of James.”

This verse sums up the practical side of what it means to follow Jesus.

In the previous passage, James has just spoken of humbly accepting the Word that is implanted in us.  Now he says that we must do the Word.

Of course, we should be doers of the Word!

Why wouldn’t we be doers of the Word?

The Word of God calls us to action: changed lives, changed minds, changed hearts!

He says that if we are only hearers of the Word than we deceive ourselves.

What exactly does this deception look like?

When we say we believe one thing but don’t act upon it, it’s really like we don’t believe it at all.

This is similar to the double-minded living that James speaks of in verse 8.

Remember, in verse 8 James says the double-minded person is the one who professes belief but doubts.  Here, James says we are deceived if we say we believe, but don’t act on the Word.

We can hear the Word of God every day, three times a day, and it will not bring about a benefit unless we act upon it.

I love what one commentator said.  He said, “One must ‘become,’ or ‘keep on becoming,’ a doer of the Word and not just a hearer.” (The Bible Knowledge Commentary)

We are to move beyond listening alone and do what God’s Word tells us to do, and keep doing it!

Plain and simple, it is not enough just to hear God’s Word.

That takes us to our next point.

II. Don’t be neglectful (vv. 23-24) [on screen]

Read James 1:23-24

23 Because if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like someone looking at his own face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of person he was.

Now, I originally had this point entitled “Don’t be forgetful,” but I think there’s more to it than just mere loss of memory.

There seems to be a neglectful forgetfulness.  A disregard for what one looks like.

This could be a foolish person who literally forgets what he looks like after just looking at himself.

That would be crazy, wouldn’t it?  Can you imagine if I brought Jack Jones up here, one of our deacons, and showed him himself in a mirror?  Next, I took away the mirror and showed him a series of pictures and asked, “Which one is you?”  Imagine if he replied, “I don’t know which is me!”  That would be foolish, wouldn’t it?  That would be foolish, Jack!

This verse could also potentially mean something a bit different.  It could refer to the negligent person who doesn’t seem to care what he looks like.

This is normally not the case for those that use a mirror.  Typically, we aren’t negligent when looking in a mirror.  Usually, we look in the mirror to see what flaws need to be corrected.  Is my hair just right?  Is there a makeup line on my face?  Do I have a grain of pepper in my teeth?

The negligent person is the one who looks at himself or herself in a mirror, and then doesn’t care how they are supposed to look, or what kind of person he or she is supposed to be.

Now, the mirrors they had in the ancient world were not the same as we have today.  Many were made of highly polished metal.  Just like today, people would look into the mirror to see themselves.

You see, a mirror is used for showing us what we look like, and once we establish how we want to look, we look at it again to make sure that we have attained that image.

We say, “That hair is supposed to flop this way, not that way!  My mustache is supposed to be pencil thin, not bushy.  That earring is supposed to hang this way, not that way.”

In a similar way, James says that if we do not do what the Word of God calls us to do, it’s like looking in a mirror and missing the mark in remembering what we are supposed to look like, or worse yet, not caring if we look like we’re supposed to look.

It’s foolish to look in a mirror and forget what you look like!  It’s foolish to look in a mirror and not care what you look like.

So also, it’s foolish to hear the Word of God and not do what it says.

A mirror is useless is we don’t use it for its purpose, or if we don’t remember what we look like.  Likewise, listening to the teachings of the Bible alone is not beneficial to us.  We must do what it calls us to do!

Finally, James tells us that we are in fact blessed when we do the Word.

That brings us to our final point, which is . . .

III.  Be blessed by doing (v. 25) [on screen]

Read James 1:25

25 But the one who looks intently into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer who works—this person will be blessed in what he does.

James says if you do the Word; if you don’t neglect it; but if you look intently into the Word, which he also calls the perfect law of freedom, you will be blessed.

The Greek word used here that translates “looks intently into” (The word is parakypsas) means “to stoop down,” “or peer in,” in order to have a close look.

We want to look fully and deeply into the Word of God to see what it says for our lives.

Some people view Bible reading and study as a burden; as an unwanted task that we know we must do; similar to taking out the trash, or flossing, or cleaning the bathtub.

However, the word of God is like a vault, full of riches, that has been opened to us.  We are free to use it and its richness!  It’s foolishness not to use it!

We have to intentionally look into it and see its richness.

God, the Creator of all things, has spoken to us!

We must listen intently to hear what He is saying.

The idea here is to look for where we are lacking and where we can improve.

We need to examine the Word of God, and then examine our own lives to see how it matches.

Just like in the mirror illustration: when we know what we’re supposed to look like, or what we want to look like, we look into the mirror to see if what we see matches how we want to look.  If it doesn’t, we adjust ourselves accordingly.

So, also, we must look into the Word of God, see how our lives are supposed to look, and adjust our lives accordingly.

We are to look into the “perfect law.”

This is the law that is found in Christ.

This is not the Old Testament law in the sense that we are bound to rituals, ceremonies, and religious practices.

This is the law of Christ; the law that gives freedom.

The law in the Old Testament created burdens and expectations which we could not meet.  The law in the New Testament is fulfilled in Jesus and offers us freedom through Christ.

Often we don’t think of a law as freedom.

However, the law of Christ certainly does bring us freedom!

We are set free from the bondage of sin and death.

We are set free to live for Jesus and live the lives that we were created to live.

Jesus said in John chapter 8, “If you continue in my word, you really are my disciples. You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free,” (John 8:31b-32).


James lays out here these four steps that we can take to be blessed:

Step One: “Look intently.”  Gaze into the Word of God and keep looking until you find something.

Step Two: “Continues.”  Once you find something, keep looking.  Find more.

Step Three: “Not forgetting.”  Don’t forget what you discover.

Step Four: “But doing.”  Do what you’ve learned. Let it change your life.

Concluding Thoughts:

So, what are we to do with this information?

How are we to be doers of the Word?

Well, first of all, I think we should ask ourselves what it means to love the Word of God.

Many of us claim to love the Word of God.

Many of us know the Word of God backward and forward.  We can tell you how many books there are in the Old Testament and New Testament.  We know the names of the twelve tribes of Israel.  We know the Ten Commandments.

We have heard the Word of God.

But, James makes it clear that knowledge alone is not enough; hearing is not enough.

We cannot measure our true love of the Word of God by how many verses we can recite, whether we know the books of the Bible, or the answer to which man succeeded Judas as an apostle.  Our love for God’s Word can truly be measured by the way we love our families; and the amount of time we spend in prayer for our lost neighbors, and the unreached peoples of the world; and our sacrifice for those in need.  Our true love of God can be seen in our repentance of selfishness, and greed, and apathy, and racism, and bigotry.  Our true love of God’s Word can be seen in our devotion to the helpless and harassed of the world.  Our true love of the Bible can be seen in our selfless sacrifice for the accomplishment of God’s mission in the world.  Our true love of the Scriptures can be seen in extending forgiveness to those who have sinned against us.  Our true love for the teachings of Jesus can be seen in investing in, training, and developing new disciples.  Genuine affections for the Bible are evident by our putting aside our own preferences to accomplish the mission that God has given the church today.  Knowledge alone is not enough.  Knowledge without obedience is foolishness.

The Word of God is powerful.  “For the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart,” (Hebrews 4:12)


Illustration: Have you all heard about the new iPhone X?  It’s an incredible phone; one of the most amazing phones to ever hit the market.  Well, one thing about it is that it has a tremendous camera.  Some people have been saying that the camera is a little too good.  When they look at pictures of themselves that they’ve taken with the iPhone X, they say that they notice too many blemishes on their faces.  They notice things that they don’t want to notice.  They say that camera is a little too lifelike.

The Bible is sometimes going to point things out for us that are uncomfortable for us to hear, or see, or feel.  We can choose to ignore it, to forget about it, or to allow our lives to be changed by the Word of God.

The effectiveness of the sermon in your life, the effectiveness of your personal Bible study, and the effectiveness of our Sunday schools and Bible studies can be measured by how our lives are changed.

We may think that we are ok by simply knowing the Word of God, but we are deceiving ourselves.  We must do what the Word of God tells us to do!

After we know what it means to love the Word of God, we must do it!  We must listen and do!  We must let it shape our lives!

So, let us remember this, church.

Perhaps the bottom line will help you remember this truth.

Here it is:

Bottom Line: Do not neglect to be a doer, for doers are blessed. [on screen]

Take this truth to heart.  Be a doer, don’t be neglectful, and be blessed by doing.

(repeat bottom line) Do not neglect to be a doer, for doers are blessed.

Here’s our weekly challenge for the week:

Weekly Challenge: [on screen]

  1. List how you have done the Word this week. [on screen]

Think about some ways where you have been obedient.

Thank God for the grace to be obedient.

Continue to be a doer.

  1. List areas of the Word that you are tempted to neglect. [on screen]

We all know that there are areas of our lives where we are tempted not to obey.

What is it in your life?

Write it down and ask God to help you with it.

  1. Search the Word intently this week. [on screen]

Don’t give up!

Search until God teaches you something. Then, search some more.


We are to search God’s Word and do what it says.

Some of you may still be searching for meaning, purpose, or significance in your life.

God has what you’re looking for. God is searching for you and has what you need.

(Gospel Presentation)

(Instructions for invitation)



Invitation Song: Where He Leads Me


Join us tonight for evening worship as we study chapter 3 of the book, I Will, by Thom Rainer.

Also, folks will be gathering to decorate the building for Christmas.  If you’d like to join them, you can be here today at 3 PM in the sanctuary, or tomorrow at 9 AM.

Sing Doxology

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