But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
I was a first-year seminary student in the Autumn of 1987 and my first class of the day was called Old Testament Isagogics I.
According to the course syllabus, OT Isagogics is a “general introduction to the questions of the canon and text of the Old Testament. Authorship, time of composition, purpose, content and nature of the books of the Pentateuch, with attention to questions of Criticism.”
And if that wasn’t daunting enough, much of the class was dedicated to studying the Old Testament in its original language of Hebrew!
Now, I had taken a year of Hebrew my senior year of college, but I was woefully underprepared for this class!
And I want to make it perfectly clear that this is no fault of the professors! It is totally, 100% my fault.
While I listened to the professors in both the Hebrew class and also in the OT Isagogics class, I didn’t actually do what they told me to do.
What they told me was that while it is important to attend and listen in class, it is equally important to do the work – studying the Hebrew language, memorizing vocabulary words, declensions, conjugations, and more.
I didn’t do that. At least not at first. I was a hearer but I wasn’t a doer.
And it cost me. Dearly. I barely passed the classes and I had to retake the OT Isagogic classes before I could graduate with my Masters in Divinity.
Which I did. I figured it out that I needed to be a doer as well as hearer. I retook the classes and did much, much better!
If only I had listened to the Epistle writer James! He had cautioned me – and all of us – to be doers as well as hearers!
James is specifically talking about God’s Word. You see, the Bible is not just some ancient book of wisdom. It also isn’t just some dusty, old, history book.
The Bible is living and breathing. It is the Word of God and it brings life and light to those who not only read it, but also do what it says.
Now, I realize that sounds a bit strange. Are we to do everything the Bible says? No, not by a long shot.
It is important to use our God-given reason to understand that some parts of the Bible are descriptive and some parts are prescriptive. We should be doers of the prescriptive parts of the Bible and learn from the descriptive and well as the prescriptive.
This is what the OT Isagogics syllabus means by “content and nature.”
Paying attention in class teaches you the difference of the two parts and how to discern them.
But what’s the big deal about doing anyway? Only this: when we do what God says, we are blessed beyond measure and end up living the way God intended for us to live when he created us.
As we live in the righteousness won for us by Christ, as we live in the forgiveness of sin purchased for us by his shed blood on the cross, we are not only hearers of the Word, we are also doers!
Heavenly Father, thank you for revealing your will to us in your Holy Scriptures. I pray that I will not only read them and hear them, but also do them. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
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