Applying the Word Without Delay

“If anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was” (James 1:23-24).

Always respond immediately to what you know to be God’s will for you.

Men, have you ever been at work and touched your face, only to realize that you forgot to shave? Perhaps you were distracted by your wife’s call to breakfast or by one of the kids. Ladies, have you ever been out in public and suddenly realized that you forgot to apply some of your makeup? Those are common occurrences that illustrate what it means to hear God’s Word but fail to respond.

James 1:23 says, “If anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror.” “Looks” doesn’t refer to a casual glance but to a careful, cautious, observant stare. This person is taking a good, long look at himself. Hearers of the Word are not necessarily superficial or casual in their approach to Scripture. They can be serious students of the Word. The fact is, some seminary professors or Sunday School teachers are not true believers. Some even write commentaries and other Bible reference works. Your response to the Word—not your depth of study alone—is the issue with God.

Despite the hearer’s lingering look, he failed to respond and the image reflected in the mirror soon faded. That’s reminiscent of Jesus saying, “When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart” (Matt. 13:19). The Word was sown but it bore no fruit. The man looked into the mirror but he made no corrections.

Perhaps there’s something God’s Word is instructing you to do that you’ve been putting off. If so, delay no longer. Don’t be a forgetful hearer!

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask God to teach you to be more disciplined in responding to the dictates of His Word.

For Further Study

Read Matthew 13:1-23, noting the various soils and what they represent.

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.com.