OceanSide church of Christ
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Victor M. Eskew
God’s Word has been revealed to mankind. God expects us to hear His Word. “Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath” (James 1:18-19). The exhortation to hear the Word of God is also given by the writer of the Hebrew epistle. “Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip” (Heb. 2:1).
Hearing God’s Word is not enough, however. We must also be doers of the Word. Jesus stressed the need for doing God’s will in His teachings. In the Sermon on the Mount, He spoke, saying: “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 7:21). In Matthew 24:36-51, Jesus taught about His second coming. In verse 46, He states: “Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing.” Doing the Lord’s will is stressed at length in the brief epistle of James. In James 1:22-25, we read: “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: for he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.”
A “doer of the word” is one who performs the Word. A “doer of the word” is one who carries out or executes the Word of God in the established manner. We find an example of a doer in the great patriarch Noah. In Genesis 6:14-16, God gave Noah specific instructions about building the ark. In Genesis 6:22, we learn that Noah was a doer of the word. “Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he.” Two words in this verse are very important: “did” and “all.” Noah did God’s will. Noah did all of God’s will. Noah was a serious doer of God’s Word. He sets a standard of excellence for all men to follow.
Being a doer of God’s Word sounds easy, but it isn’t always. King Saul learned this lesson when God commanded him to utterly destroy the Amalekites. The command was simple. “Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox, and sheep, camel and ass” (I Sam. 15:3). Saul, however, had great difficulty in obeying the Lord’s command. He spared the king of the Amalekites and the best of the sheep and oxen and lambs (I Sam. 15:9). What’s interesting is that in his disobedience Saul convinced himself that he had been obedient (I Sam. 15:13). God, however, did not simply dismiss his transgression. He held Saul accountable for failing to be a doer of the word. “And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king” (I Sam. 15:22-23).
Almost every Christian has struggled with being a doer of the word. Sometimes, we participate in evil instead of abstaining from all appearance of evil (I Thess. 5:22). Sometimes we refuse to settle our differences with our brethren instead of going to them as the Lord directs (Matt. 18:15-17). Sometimes we use excuses instead of practicing the command to withdraw from the disorderly (II Thess. 3:6). Sometimes we choose to lie instead of telling the truth to our brothers and sister in Christ (Eph. 4:25). Sometimes we keep silent when what is needed is a stern rebuke (Tit. 1:13). Sometimes we close our mouths instead of defending the truth of the gospel (Phil. 1:17). Sometimes we are slothful in the Lord’s work instead of abounding therein (I Cor. 15:58). Sometimes we pass by those who are hurting and suffering instead of responding in compassion toward them (Luke 10:30-32). Sometimes we allow our anger to control us rather than our controlling our anger (Eph. 4:26-27). Sometimes we fellowship the unfruitful works of darkness instead of reproving them (Eph. 5:11). Sometimes we allow unfaithful members to drift into apostasy instead of seeking to restore them (Gal. 6:1-2).
The list given above is just a small sampling of our failures at times to be doers of the word. Three things need to be considered at this time. First, are our failings intentional? Second, do our failings happen over and over again? Third, do we disobey God and still believe ourselves to be doers of the Word? Dear readers, we exhort you to earnestly seek to become serious doers of the word. When we do, we will be following in the footsteps of Jesus. It was He who said: “My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work” (John 4:34).