ArticleBible & Theology

Why We Can’t Just Listen to the Great Commission

Followers of Christ must listen to biblical instructions and respond to them.
“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” (James 1:22 ESV)

Just do it.

These words have been immortalized by marketers for a sports shoe and clothing company. Preachers have seized the opportunity to use these words to encourage congregations to obey God’s Word.

James taught his readers a similar idea. He commanded, “be doers of the word and not hearers only.” He juxtaposed the terms doer and hearer to make a simple distinction. Doers do and hearers hear. He set apart those who both hear and do from those who only hear.

But let’s not misunderstand James. He is not saying, don’t be a hearer—he already encouraged his readers to hear and “receive with meekness the implanted word” (1:21). Instead, he directed his readers to take it further. Receive God’s Word, listen to it, and then do it.

Doing what God’s Word says is important. It demonstrates obedience. James used strong words to say that those who only listen to God’s Word are deceived. The deception lies in the fact that they assumed hearing the Word was sufficient. We do the same thing. And just like his readers, we lie to ourselves if we think listening to a sermon or a weekly podcast is all that is required to maintain our spiritual walk.

Think about where missions would be today if God’s people only listened without actions to Matthew 28:19-20, or if they only heard Acts 1:8, or only read Matthew 9:38. If Christ-followers only listened to sermons and podcasts and heard how great the commission was, how far the gospel was supposed to expand, how urgent the need is, and how short-handed the harvest, but they didn’t do anything in response, then James would say those people have deceived themselves.

Let’s give praise to God for the 1,000 missionaries who serve with ABWE in over 80 countries. They heard the Word, and they are doing the Word. Let’s exalt the Lord for the 400 churches that sent them and the 4,000 churches and 24,000 individuals who financially support them. Let’s say hallelujah for almost 1,000 people who intercede regularly for our missionaries with our 9:38 prayer plan. These folks are not just hearers of God’s Word, but they are doers of God’s Word.

Who will respond to the missionary call next? Who will do it? Will it be you?

Let’s pray:

“Father in heaven, open my heart to your Word. Enable me by your Holy Spirit to do what it says. Show me my role in the Great Commission and help me to do it.”


Missions Prayer Focus: Portugal

  1. Pray for more laborers to serve in Portugal.
  2. Pray that Portuguese people would be awakened by the Holy Spirit to their sin and need for the Savior.
  3. Pray that the church would proclaim the truth of Scripture in words and actions.
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About the Author

Dr. Bobby Hile is ABWE’s director of long-term mobilization. Prior to that, he served for nine years as a senior pastor in Ohio and for almost 20 years with ABWE as a missionary in South Africa.

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