Summary: The most common thing associated with the Christian life is to take God’s word and go through the process of internalizing it. When you first become a Christian you hardly know where to begin. I read through the Bible every year. It’s a big task to tak
FAITH THAT WORKS
JUST DO IT!
Last Sunday was the Super Bowl. A couple of years ago I read a story in the sports section of the newspaper about the two teams that were playing. What made that story interesting to me was that it was a story on the spiritual life of several of the players in that game. The story reported that there are some players who read their Bibles as much as their play books.
It went on to detail these player’s commitment to Jesus Christ. I always like to hear stories like that, and I especially like to hear that they are reading their Bibles. I like to hear that because there is so much ignorance concerning the Bible in our society today. So many people today don’t read or understand the Bible. This is not because they don’t have a Bible, the problem is that it is not read.
The most common thing associated with the Christian life is to take God’s word and go through the process of internalizing it. When you first become a Christian you hardly know where to begin. I read through the Bible every year. It’s a big task to take God’s word and internalize it.
That’s what James is talking about in today’s passage. He’s talking to us about three actions that need to be in our lives. They’re all part of the process of taking God’s word and internalizing it.
1. Receive God’s Word
My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. James 1:19-21
The appeal here is to everyone. All of us are to take this key phrase, at the end of verse 21, accept the word planted in you. That is receiving the word. Before getting to that point, James speaks of four things in life which will create a bottleneck for God’s word moving into our lives if we don’t do them.
a. Be quick to listen
Be quick to listen. An attitude which says, Don’t confuse me with the facts, my mind’s made up! is not conducive to allowing God’s word in. An attitude like that will keep God’s word from being planted. Good listening makes a tremendous difference in the effect God’s Word has on our life.
In 1917 John Foster Dulles was serving on the staff of the American Embassy in Berne, Switzerland. Late one afternoon in April, Dulles’s phone rang. A heavily accented man introducing himself as Vladimir Ilyich Lenin urgently asked to speak to someone at the embassy later in the day. Most of the senior staff had already left and Dulles had an important date with a young woman in an hour. He told Lenin to come to the embassy when it opened at ten the next morning. Lenin protested but Dulles remained firm and hung up the phone. Lenin did not come to the embassy the next morning or ever. He went back to Russia by train and took total control of the Communist revolution. Dulles often reflected later in his career the possible difference it might have made to millions of people had he taken the time to listen to a Russian exile that April afternoon of 1917.
b. Slow to speak
Be quick to listen and slow to speak. I often do that in the reverse, when I should have keep quiet I just let it fly. And you probably have too! One of the things that keeps us from hearing is that we speak to much! You can’t be an effective listener if you are doing all the talking. When God was giving out body parts, he gave us two ears and one mouth — that ought to say something to us. Often, we don’t hear what someone is saying because we are not listening.
c. Slow to anger
Then be slow to anger. Isn’t it interesting that anger is mixed up with listening and speaking? The reason why it is in there is that anger is sort of like sediment in a pond. When I go golfing, I always find the water, even if no one else knew it existed. If you try to fish you ball out, you always find loose sediment there and it muddies the water so you can’t see. Anger is like that in our life. It is there, and I’ve found that I don’t listen to God very well when I’m angry.
Anger and quick speech are closely related because anger is most often expressed verbally. We need to maintain a calm attitude that restrains hasty, improper reactions to what we hear. Freedom of speech involves great responsibility.