Summary: A call to listen to the Word, accept the Word, followed by a call to DO the word.
God Wants Doers
The story is told of Franklin Roosevelt, who often endured long receiving lines at the White House. He complained that no one really paid any attention to what was said. One day, during a reception, he decided to try an experiment. To each person who passed down the line and shook his hand, he murmured, "I murdered my grandmother this morning." The guests responded with phrases like, "Marvelous! Keep up the good work. We are proud of you. God bless you, sir." It was not till the end of the line, while greeting the ambassador from Bolivia, that his words were actually heard. Without pause, the ambassador leaned over and whispered, "I’m sure she had it coming."
While funny, the story makes me ponder just how often I don’t listen closely enough. Especially at home. Alyssa would be the first to tell of all the things that she has told me during our marriage that have gone in one ear and out the other. Sure, I may have heard what she said… but I definitely wasn’t listening.
Even more, how often are we in conversations where we do more talking than listening? Or better yet… how many of you use the time that the other person is talking to think of what you are going to say as soon as they stop. Yet… with all these examples, I find it strikingly odd that God gave us two ears, but only one mouth!
And our desire to flap our gums doesn’t stop with our fellow neighbors, we have to inflict it upon God too. In a recent survey, it was discovered that on any given week… 37% of Americans read their Bible. Pretty good right? But, get this… same survey; 85% will pray. By that standard, we are three times more likely to talk to God than to listen to him.
James starts out our scripture this morning striking to the very heart of this problem. Now is the time to go ahead and reach in front of you and grab that pew bible, because we are gonna work it verse by verse again. Page _______.
James writes to us in verse 19, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, and slow to speak.” While this is good advice for us for how we should treat our brothers and sisters… even more so… it is important for us to do this with God. We should be quick to listen to what God has to say, and slow to speak to him.
Do you get the significance of this? Instead of a one way communication from us to God, it should much rather be communication from God to us. Now that I say it, doesn’t it just sound right? Doesn’t it just make sense? Well, listening is the first step. The second step is accepting what is heard.
This second step is laid out for us by James in verse 21. Lets look, “accept the word planted in you.” It is not simply a matter of listening, but accepting it and believing it. Now I can hear what a person is saying, I can even listen with all my might, I can even understand 100% of what their saying and where they are coming from. But at the same time that doesn’t necessarily mean I agree with them.
Likewise, it is not simply a matter of listening to God’s word, nor a matter of understanding what is being said, or where God is coming from. It is a matter of accepting it and believing it. Making it part of yourself.
Well, the next step might seam like a no-brainer, and yet it is the step that most often gets overlooked. Listen to God… CHECK. Accept it… CHECK. Now DO something. Well…
Lets pick it back up at verse 22, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. DO what is says.” It is one thing to listen for God and to accept his Word, it is an entirely other thing to actually act on it.
So tell me Pastor Homan, what’s the harm in skipping that last step. We are saved by faith right? Right? We hear the word? We respond in faith? We accept Jesus, are saved… and are going to heaven. We hear it and we get it. What else is there?
Some, when the church service is over, will seldom think of anything but going home. Others may pass a remark about the sermon, and then dismiss the subject forever from their thoughts. A few will express even more pleasure, but perhaps even these are satisfied merely with having enjoyed it.
The purpose of preaching, however, is not that the people may be “very much pleased,” but that they may be profited, edified, and inspired to respond in action. The highest praise that can be bestowed upon a Christian minister is not to tell them how much their sermon is enjoyed, but to let them see how well it is being translated into their lives - on the other 6 days of the week. While it may be very well and good that the sermon is enjoyable and profits them one good hour per week… but what does it profit them, if their church-going carries with it no power to direct their daily life?