“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22, ESV)
Many children know the song, “The Wise Man Built His House upon the Rock.” I certainly remember enjoying the motions when we sang it – especially when it was time for the foolish man’s house to go SMASH! Jesus said that those who hear His words and do them are like a wise man who builds his house on a rock. His house stands firm in rains, floods, and wind. The one who hears but does not obey is like the foolish man who builds his house on the sand. As soon as the storms come, the house collapses (Matthew 7:24-27).
God is not pleased when we hear His Word but do not obey it. If we only teach our children about God’s Word, but do not train them to actually obey it, we are not doing our job. We are not preparing them to stand firm when they experience the storms of life.
We can help our children do what the Bible says by setting an example of obedience before them and by actively training them in the midst of real-life situations throughout the day. Training opportunities can be addressed with questions and instruction that lead to visible acts of repentance.
- What did you do?
- What does the Bible say about what you did? (Read directly from Scripture to answer this question. Use a topical Bible or For Instruction in Righteousness to help you find appropriate verses.)
- What do you need to do differently?
- Do you need to ask forgiveness?
- Do you need to make restitution?
- What will you do the next time a situation like this occurs?
- Let’s pray together. (Disciplinary measures may also need to take place at this point.)
- OK, go do it and come back and tell me how it went.
James 1:22-25 says, “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. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.”
To make the need for active obedience even clearer, try this little object lesson:
- At some point during the day, alter your hair or face in some noticeable or strange way – pull just part of your hair into a pony tail on the side of your head, put heavy eye shadow on just one eye, make an obvious dirty smudge on one side of your face, black out one of your teeth with a grease pencil. Be creative! Have some fun with this!
- When someone draws attention to the problem, make an obvious show of going to a mirror, gasping over the sight, commenting on how weird you look and how you need to fix the problem, and then walk away without changing anything.
- When your children observe that you still look the same, repeat the same show, going to the mirror, acting shocked at your image, and then leaving without correcting the problem.
- While you have their attention, read James 1:22-25 for them. How is hearing without obeying like looking in a mirror and forgetting what you look like?
- Go to the mirror and take care of your hair or face. Remind your children this truth. When we look into the mirror of God’s Word and we learn that what we are doing is wrong, we should not walk away and forget what we have heard. God tells us to change. He will help us, and He will bless us when we repent and obey Him.
Have fun! And go back to this passage and lesson when you see yourself or your children just hearing without doing. God gave us His mirror to help us see ourselves. He calls us to change.