But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. (James 1:22–24)
Around me lie the broken scraps of many good intentions. They litter the carpet like straw on a stable floor, thickly piling up in the corners. You read something, or see something on the television, and say to yourself: I must do that. Your mind whirls with all the benefits you will feel as your life becomes more organised and more productive. Those ten steps to happiness and five paths to fulfillments, how they will transform your life. This is it!
So you set your mind to putting these things into practice, and a week later you suddenly realise that they have joined those other good intentions lying broken at your feet.
In the end it is not enough to simply read something, but you do have to put it into practice. Reading a magazine article about interior decoration will not get your room painted. A Rough Guide to Lisbon is no substitute to getting on the plane and setting off to Humberto Delgado Airport.
It’s the same with the Christian life, as James points out: be doers of the word! Our beliefs should result in actions as we put what he have heard from Jesus into action. But will this just mean more broken intentions? Well maybe at first, but do remember that Jesus has promised us his Spirit. He will strengthen us as we seek to live out the Christian life. I promise you, it will come. As our minds are renewed by Christ, our habits will follow suit.
So pick James’ challenge, and be doers. That way you will know that you have really heard Christ’s words. And taken them to heart.