But be you doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.…
Now the whole passage exhibits a striking difference, amounting to a complete contrast in the results which are accomplished in different persons who came into contact, more or less close, with this great "law," "word," or "gospel" of God.
I. THERE IS A DIFFERENCE IN THE ACT MANNER OF LOOSING. The natural man looks into the gospel superficially, the spiritual man more deeply. A man looking well into the perfect law of liberty is as it were drawn into it, and draws it into himself. A man of appreciative taste looking at a famous painting, will feel drawn into it as it were. He will become in a degree unconscious of the things and the persons around. He will be standing in that highland glen! or resting in that sylvan glade I or dashing in triumph through that foaming sea! So a man, looking aright at the gospel, will feel as though he was drawn into it, and it into him! He will be received into the kingdom, and the kingdom into him.
II. THERE IS A DIFFERENCE IN THE TIME OCCUPIED IN THE LOOKING. If a man were to sit down and make out a time-table of his own life, classifying his waking hours according to the several occupations in which he is generally engaged, and allotting to each the time that is spent in it, how much would be for religious contemplation for "beholdings" of the gospel of God? In the case of some, the time would be found to be exceedingly brief. So that, when the looking is not only superficial but extremely transient, it is not at all surprising that the practical results should be scanty and poor. Here let it be understood that we ask for nothing high-strained of impossible. Religion is a reasonable service, Now I will put a case which has often been in your experience. You are very busy. And yet it has sometimes happened in your busiest time that a matter has arisen suddenly, one claiming instant attention. And you did it; and nothing else was neglected; a day that seemed full of duty, has room in it for a supreme duty; and that duty well done, imparted a higher character to everything else that was in the day, and the calm and rest of the evening were the sweeter for that happy retrospect in which nothing lay undone. It is just so that religion, having due time at signed to it, will come in not to enfeeble but to strengthen the toiling men — not to excite and waste, but to calm and purify, these fretful days.
III. THERE IS A DIFFERENCE IN THE PRACTICAL ACTION TAKEN AS THE RESULT OF THE LOOKING, The careless looker — he who looks superficially and transiently — "goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth" — takes no action at all. Even with his looking, he saw that some, action ought to be taken, and without delay. He looks in the glass, and sees spots on his countenance, and feels that these ought to be removed. He has sights, but no corresponding deeds. He has convictions, but no corresponding performances. He has feelings without decisions, longings without realisations, constant hearing of the Word but no doing of the work. On the other hand, he who looketh into the law of liberty with profit, looks that he may do; and does that he may look again with clearer eye. Suppose such a man, not yet an assured Christian, only becoming one. He looks and sees himself, covered as we all are by nature with the defilements of sin. And what does he do? Does he go away in forgetfulness, or does he lie down in despair? He does neither. He goes to the open fountain, and washes and is clean. Or he sees God revealed in Christ. Christ as "God manifest in the flesh," radiant in His own perfections and yet overflowing with love to us, reconciling the world unto God and not imputing unto men their trespasses. But is he satisfied with the sigh? No. He comes to Christ. He trusts Him that he may be justified. And so of everything else, a required sacrifice is made — an recumbent duty is done — an opened path in providence is followed. And so strength comes, and purity returns, and the lost image of heaven. All who behold thus, as in a glass, the glory of the Lord, are "changed into the same image."
(A. Raleigh, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.