The Look Like of Doing

Some days I feel really busy.

I am busy.

I finish a day exhausted because I have been so busy.

But I have also found that sometimes I have been busy doing absolutely nothing.

Nothing useful or fruitful or beneficial. Just busy.

It’s a thoroughly modern disease to be busy doing nothing.

I can spend a lot of time ‘doing’ things that yield very little return.  I can, for example, spend a lot of time on eBay or Amazon, filling a basket with goodies, only to abandon it because I have talked myself out of the needless spend.

I can peruse Facebook for a good while. Click a few photos. Scroll through a few pages.  End up watching a funny video of a dog jumping to catch a Frisbee, missing and landing in the family pool. Or the baby giggling hysterically at something like a spoon.

I can play a game, check the weather, read the news, browse through Twitter, read the chapter of a book, watch a TV show, research getting a new washing machine, change my mind, rebrowse Twitter, search on Pinterest for something to make out of the over-ripe plums in my fruitbowl, Instagram a picture of my odd looking plum-pie-cakey-thing and suddenly find myself at the end of the day feeling frazzled and fraught at all my busy-doing-nothing-ness.

Now, don’t get me wrong. We all need a little down time, and if clicking through books on Amazon is restful for you, then go for it.  Or if you love that show you watch once a week and it helps you unwind, then why not?

I’m not talking about enjoyable time we can have doing something we like.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t have a chuckle along with cute babies and funny dogs.

It’s the place we have put these things that we need to question.

Because, if you are anything like me life can quickly become drowned with the endless sound of pinging, dinging, buzzing and beeping. Emails. Games. Social media. Texts. Our lives are crowded with information and stuff, and we can slip helplessly into a busyness that is neither fruitful, or as God intended.

It’s not the busy that is the problem, it’s the busy doing what that is.

Today we are reading the last part of James chapter 1, where he starts to give us a snapshot as to what our busy should in fact look like.

Let’s take a look at Chapter 1, verses 22-27.




First of all, James impresses upon us that we must not just listen but we must also do. So what should we be doing?

If we measured the busyness of our lives against the plumb line of the Bible, how skewed would we come up? Is our doing what James meant, does it align itself to the ‘doing’ of the Bible? Or have we become trapped in meaningless busyness that only really fritters the time we have?

Being a doer of the word

Of course, James isn’t chastising us for how we spend our free time. But this passage does beg the question: do we do what the word says?  Are we obedient to its commands and teachings? Are we striving to live lives that are characterised by the fruit of the spirit? Do we display grace and compassion, mercy and love when we are required to? Do we forgive? Do we care for those in need? Do we make disciples, do we preach the risen Christ, do we proclaim the gospel and bring good news to those who need to hear it?

Listening, Doing, Reaping

Look at the pattern here in this latter part of James.

Listen. Take in the word of God. Know it. Hear it. Pay attention to it.

Do. Let action follow. Take care of your character (watch your tongue, guard your mouths, don’t let the world spoil you). And take care of others (the widows, the orphans, the distressed).

Reap. Gain the blessings that follow an obedient heart.

The Dangers of the Wrong Kinds of Doing, the No-Doing and the Wasteful Doing

While we are given clear instructions here on what to do, James does not beat around the bush in telling us what we should not do.

When we align ourselves with doing the wrong things with the wrong motives, or doing things that only waste the time we have been given…or even worse, when we render ourselves useless and do nothing, then we need to take heed.

There are consequences. We open ourselves up to deception and pollution. We cannot hang comfortably between doing and not-doing. We either hear and do, or we risk being deceived or polluted by worldliness.

Let us be people who hear, who love and who do, using the Bible as our guide.


Thoughts for Today


  1. What changes do you need to make in your own life when it comes to hearing and doing?
  2. How can you make practical steps to keep yourself from both deception and pollution? How must we take care in guarding our hearts?
  3. Why do you think James specifically mentions the tongue? How can this be one of our most powerful undoings if we are not careful? Look up the following for some additional reading: Proverbs 21:23, Ephesians 4:29, Proverbs 15:1, Proverbs 18:21.

Prayers for Today


  • Ask God to show you how you can be wise with your time and with your ‘doing’?
Grace and Love
Helen x


  1. […] The Look Like of Doing […]


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