Suggested further reading: James 1:19-25
Here is a striking picture of two classes of hearers: those who
hear and do nothing, and those who hear and do as well as hear.
They, their histories and their ends are placed before us.
We have the man who hears Christian teaching and
practises what he hears. He does not content himself with listening to
exhortations to repent, believe in Christ and live a holy life. He
actually repents, believes, ceases to do evil, learns to do well, abhors
that which is sinful and cleaves to that which is good. He hears and
does (James 1:22).
What is the result? In the time of trial his religion does not
fail him. The floods of sickness, sorrow, poverty,
disappointments, bereavements beat upon him in vain. His faith does not give
way. His comforts do not utterly forsake him. His religion may have
cost him trouble in times past and have been obtained with labour
and tears, earnest seeking and wrestling in prayer. But his labour has
not been thrown away. He now reaps a rich reward. The religion
that can stand trial is true religion.
We have the man who hears Christian teaching but never
gets beyond hearing. He satisfies himself with listening and
approving but goes no further. He flatters himself, perhaps, that all is
right with his soul because he has feelings, conviction and desires of
a spiritual kind. In these he rests. He never really breaks off from
sin, and casts aside the spirit of the world. He never really lays hold
of Christ. He never really takes up the cross. He is a hearer of the
truth but nothing more.
What is the result? This man's religion breaks down entirely
under the first flood of tribulation. It fails him completely like a
sun-dried stream when his need is greatest. It leaves its possessor high and
dry like a wreck on a sandbank, a scandal to the church, a byword to
the infidel and a misery to himself. Most true it is that what costs
little is worth little! A religion that consists in nothing but hearing
sermons is a useless thing.
For meditation: We remember very little of what we hear and
read as it is. If we then go on to apply very little of what is
remembered, what spiritual benefit can possibly accrue?