Summary: Our study of James continues by looking at what true religion is according to God.
Part 4- “Don’t Make Me Pull This Car Over”
Pastor Ryan Akers
James 1:19-27- explanation of title…There is a ton of good stuff in this scripture and what I want to do this morning instead of giving you point 1, point 2, point 3 is I want to unpackage it little by little so that we can get a full understanding of what James is trying to teach us. To maybe make it easier for your note taking I want to split this scripture into 2 sections. James is speaking here on the nature of true religion. What does true religion look like? There are all sorts of thoughts and opinions out there as to what a true Christian looks like and acts like. Is it about works or is it about faith or is it about faith and works?
Is it about how you look? Is it about how you talk? Is it about where you go to church? What is it that God wants from us specifically as his followers? What does a righteous life look like to God? That is exactly what James begins to answer in these 9 verses and goes into greater depth on in later chapters. But I want to unpack these 9 verses into 2 sections. These sections will be the 1. The Goal of True Religion, 2. The Acid Test of True Religion.
Let’s look at the goal of true religion according to James.
Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. 20 Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires. 21 So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls.
The goal of true religion is that all who have faith in Christ would live out the righteous life that God desires according to His word. When God gives salvation there is a natural shifting in our entire beings. We are no longer to live like the world lives. We are no longer to love as the world loves. We are no longer to act as the world acts in any way, shape or form but now we are to desire to live according to God’s perfect law. Salvation awakens in us a longing to no longer live as the world lives or to live for me but to now live for God and in such a way that would bring glory to God and only God. Because to glorify myself is to glorify a sinner who without God is nothing. So James says to reach this goal of the right life that pleases God right off the bat we can literally practice 3 things. Quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. All three actions are a direct contrast to how we have previously lived our lives before Christ entered us.
Careless words and careless emotions cause great destruction in anyone’s life. When Christ came into my life it is now my desire to learn what it means and to practice in my life every day the idea of being quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. A person who is quick to listen is one who not only listens to someone but they are also intently working to understand them. You cannot divorce the listening from the understanding. They go hand in hand. Just look at any marriage. How many times have you listened to your spouse but never understood what they were saying? My wife tells me all the time that I have “selective hearing”. Meaning I may have listened to her talk but I didn’t hear what she said.
Any premarital counseling I do one of the first major components we discuss, that time has proven will help create an atmosphere of success in the marriage, is the art of communication. Any good marriage, any good friendship, any good relations between governments of other countries have people who are both listening and hearing. Most problems I see in marriage are not financial. It is the problem of two people who are too stubborn to take the time to not only listen but to understand what the other person is trying to say. One person said it this way, “The fact that God gave us two ears and only one mouth means that we ought to listen twice as much as we talk!” Unknown
There are countless numbers of people who pay psychologist crazy amounts of money, why? Because they want someone to listen to them. I would say 8 out of 10 times people come to speak to me they are not necessarily looking for an answer to their problem as much as they are looking for someone to talk to who they know is intently listening and understanding them. The church is to be the place where everyone can be heard and understood. Then he says we need to be slow to speak. We need to not be so quick to react to what is being said. Humans are just naturally reactive instead of reflective. We tend to be much quicker to defend our position, opinions and decisions rather than be reflective and give constructive criticism a chance. (Best advice I received on being reflective instead of reactive, 3 day strategy). Words have the power to build up or to destroy. They can encourage or they can insult. Christians more than anyone should have an understanding of what it means to pick our words carefully. To be more reflective than reactive.