The Levites—Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan and Pelaiah—instructed the people in the Law while the people were standing there. They read from the Book of the Law of God, making it clear and giving the meaning so that the people understood what was being read. Nehemiah 8:7-8

It wasn’t enough for the people to hear the word of God. The Bible isn’t a magic book where we hear the words and are magically transformed. Rather we need to understand it so we can apply it to our lives. There is a learning process to undertake. It isn’t spontaneous growth but a “little by little” process.

It reminds me of the “little by little” process that the Israelites went through when they entered the land: “Little by little I will drive them out before you, until you have increased enough to take possession of the land” (Exodus 23:30). It takes time to integrate teaching into our lives so that our attitudes and motives are changed and refined.

God has provided people with the gifts and understanding to help us in this process and make his word clear. However, even when we understand it there is no guarantee that we will do it. This is why James exhorts us to not just be hearers of the word, but doers. “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” James 1:22

We delude ourselves when we think hearing is enough. We dupe ourselves when we think that if we listen to a gifted Bible teacher that is enough. We deceive ourselves if we don’t apply what we hear. To be doers of the word, we have to take up the responsibility of acting on what we have heard.