But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.
We get the “doers of the word” part — most of us Methodist are more than eager to put our faith into some kind of meaningful action.
But note the contrast — “and not hearers only.”
If we gave it some real thought, most of us would contrast “doing” the word with “reading the word,” wouldn’t we?
In our mind, the sin James rebukes here concerns people who read, study, and underline their bibles but don’t then live their bibles.
Except James couldn’t write his letter and give this exhortation with that sin in mind. Why?
Because the people in James’ church didn’t have their own personal copies of the bible. In fact, the majority of them couldn’t read.
They encountered the sacred text in church, in community, and out loud. So most people in James’ church heard the word without ever reading the word. James writes with that dynamic in mind.
Which brings up the larger point: the bible is a collection of books — a library as we call it at Good Shepherd — written for people who are by and large illiterate.
Books for people who can’t read? You bet. That’s why the books in the bible are written more for the ear than for the eye.
So try it. Read it out loud today.
And the book of James wouldn’t be a bad place to start.