Be More than a Learner
Becoming a Doer of the Word
It was a hot day. I had the AC in the van on full-blast but it wasn’t making a dent toward cooling my big box of an Astro Van. I was waiting to make a left turn out of the Target parking lot, strategizing when to turn and where, when up piped her voice from the bright red seat behind and to my right. “I can drive,” she announced with full confidence. That sweet voice, that was close to a constant in our home, was coming from my, then seven-year-old, daughter. I took the time to glance back in my astonishment, seeing her little feet swinging freely above the floor of the van.
Not wanting to squash her confidence, but slightly afraid she would give it a try when my back was turned, I replied with something like, “You learn a lot from where you sit there, but there’s a lot more to actually driving than what you can see.”
There’s nothing quite like doing, is there? You can watch a sport on the sidelines your whole life, but when you are put in the game, it’s, well, a whole other ballgame!
The same goes for our Christian walk. We can spend our whole lives on a pew, listening, paying attention, studying the Word faithfully. But unless we are actually doing the things we are told we should be doing, we can’t really call ourselves disciples.
The word “disciple” in the Greek is “mathetes.” It means, “a learner who does.” “Who does”- what an interesting caveat. A disciple is more than one who listens, more than one who sits still, more than one who theorizes. A disciple does – actually implements what is learned and conforms their behavior to what is taught.
This truth does two things in my heart.
First, it convicts me. It holds up a mirror that allows me to see all the things Jesus and His disciples did and compare that image to the image of myself. I suddenly see all the things I’m not doing, things I’ve been afraid to do, things I thought were someone else’s job.
That brings me to the second thing this truth does. It shows me that no believer is intended to simply sit and philosophize about what Jesus commanded; we were intended to learn so that we would DO. That includes everyone, regardless of education, class, gender or personality.
Learning for the sake of learning wasn’t even something that entered into the mind of the early Christians who looked askance at the common Greek elites’ practice of philosophizing about things they never put into action saying, “Now all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new” (Act 17:21).
I once spent about six months studying nothing but the commandments of Jesus in Scripture. It was interesting to observe that they could all be boiled down, as He Himself pointed out, to two commandments: Love God; love people. If I keep those two things as my aim, the “doing” will flow. If I see someone in need, these two commands will call me to act and not just sympathize. If I see someone sick or injured, these two commands will call me to pray for healing as Jesus did. If I see someone lost, alone, disenfranchised, oppressed, these two commands will call me to act for their good. If I see someone lost, I will do what I can to lead them home.
“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” (James 1:22)