“But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man shall be blessed in what he does” James 1:25
Effectual doer – James helps us see the practical side of our religious convictions. What good is a faith that doesn’t have traction? Contemplation of the perfect law of liberty must result in feet on the ground actions. That’s why this verse includes the critical phrase “effectual doer”.
In Greek, the words poietes ergou mean “doer of work”. Someone who gets it done. Reliable. Steadfast. Industrious. Wouldn’t we all like to be called by these words? James tells us precisely how to become entirely accomplished at this vital part of life. “Look intently at the perfect law of liberty” and “Abide in it.” Real action starts with deep contemplation.
Not the usual kind of advice we get these days. We have plenty of excuses. “I don’t have time to spend reading the Word.” “I try to get in a few minutes of prayer.” “I have so much to do I can’t take time to just sit and meditate.” Oh, really? James is a minimalist. “Why do you spin like a top?” he asks. “Did you think that God wanted you to be so busy with the necessary that you don’t have time for the essential?” Then James hits us right between the eyes. Only the effectual worker will be blessed in all that he does. Not the one who just does more and more. Not the one who can balance all the demands. Not supermom or superdad. No, the one God blesses is the one who has priorities set by fixed concentration on WHO GOD IS (that’s the point of the perfect law of liberty).
James understands the problem. We are forgetful listeners. To compensate for our mental insufficiencies, James suggests practical actions. Can’t remember the capitals of every state in the union? No problem. Just get in the car and visit each one. Then you’ll remember. Can’t remember what Jesus said about the poor? Pick yourself up and go help them. Then you’ll know. Can’t remember those verses about loving one another? Don’t fret. Go visit someone who is in need. Write a check to someone who can’t pay the bills. Call up someone and ask what you can do for her. Memorization in action. The effectual doer is the one who deeply understands the perfect law by making it happen.
I never want to hear another sermon about love that does not tell me how to use my helping hands. I never want to have another prayer meeting that doesn’t take up a collection for the jobless or make a trip to the hospital. I am sick and tired of proxy Christianity. “We’ll pray for you,” means nothing unless you are going to pray with your feet too.