Summary: Part Three of James Study this is the first part of the series - James 1:22-27
The Book of James Study (Part III)
James had seen some Christians develop disappointing and even dangerous habits in regard to their “profession” and their “practice.” In our text James make a proposition, provides an illustration, and draws and application about how to practically apply one’s faith.
I. James Makes a Proposition (v. 22)
a. In verse 19 James tells us to be “swift to hear” but here he tells us not to make the hearing of the Word an end in itself.
i. James is talking about Christians who love to hear the Word but never get around to putting it into practice.
We have two ears and only one mouth so priority of use is evident. Jesus often used the phrase, “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” We miss so much because we are talking, instead of listening.
“Slow to speak”—There are times when silence is golden, when there is nothing to say that has not been said already.
The old adage is appropriate here: “Speak less than thou knowest and know more than that showest. You can’t hear when you are talking.
“Slow to wrath”—Unguarded speech gives expression to an inner turmoil in our hearts. Losing one’s temper never accomplices good, unless it is a controlled anger, such as Jesus displayed in the temple to the moneychangers. Moses displayed a wrath not unto righteousness in the matter of striking the rock when he had been told to speak to it.
b. Christians fall into two categories in regard to this issue
i. Some Christians faithfully listen to the Word and even feel a “spiritual high” because of what they hear, but they never apply the truth of God’s word to their lives.
ii. Other Christians – unfortunately a small percentage of the whole, receive the Word with joy and allow it to be disseminated into their life and behavior.
c. Many Christians are like posts instead of trees.
i. If we plant a tree it begins to grow
ii. If we set a post it begins to decay
d. “Doers of the word” naturally take on the characteristics of their Lord.
One day an elderly Christian woman was getting on an elevator in a large department store. The elevator was dimly lighted, and to make conversation, she said to the elevator operator, “You don’t get much sunshine in here do you?” The operator replied, “Only what folks like your bring in, ma’am.”
Why should we want to do the above; Slow to wrath, slow to speak, and swith to hear?
It affects our walk (vv. 21-22)
The rejection of sin—“lay apart all filthiness”
“Superfluity” is perisseia, abundance, excess.
“Naughtiness” is hruparia, wickedness, evil.
These are remnant sins left over from the carnal life, which cling to every Christian and hinder obedience to God’s Word.
These must be laid apart, “put off” as Paul says of the “old man” in Co. 3:9-10.
The reception of the Word—“receive with meekness”
There are two words for “receive” in the Greek language,
One is lambano—“to grasp, reach out, take hold of.
The one in the text is dekomai—“to receive as a welcomed guest.”
James’ use is not meant to pick up the Bible or to reach out and take it from the desk or table. Its use is to welcome the Bible as a special guest, to treat it with respect, to engage it in study and holy reception.
The Word is to be received with “meekness.”
Meekness is a quality of life characteristic of the Lord Jesus and is an inwrought grace.
Some read the Bible to find interesting stories, or to aid archaeology, or to find errors, or to enjoy fine literature, or to search for hidden codes, or even to salve a conscience or use the Bible as a good-luck charm. James might agree that any look into the Bible might have its place, but his main concern is that its readers should be “doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving” themselves.
II. James Provides an Illustration (vv. 23-25)
a. The illustration is that of a man looking at himself in a mirror and walking away, immediately forgetting what he looks like.
i. Christians who merely “hear” the Word of God do something similar to this.
ii. They hear the Word but soon forget it, and it has no influence on them or their lives.
b. The word “beholdeth” (KJV) suggests only a passing glance, without any serious study.
i. But the words “looketh into” in verse 25 has the sense of looking carefully, closely, seriously.
ii. Being honest with what we see in that spiritual mirror will lead to a blessing for our lives.
There are two words for “looking” in the text.
The first word in v. 23, “beholdeth,” is kataneuo, “to give a passing glance,” a casual look into the mirror. One might call this the “Fonzi-look,” named after the character in the TV show “Happy Days,” who looked into the mirror and saw only perfection.