Just Do It – Pt 1
* Nike is a mega-sports company which is known for its slogan, “Just do it.” From God’s word today let’s consider this slogan but let’s add three words, “For the Lord.” We don’t “do” for our salvation, we do from our salvation. We don’t do to ‘gain’ eternal life; we do to GIVE eternal life. Yet in an honest evaluation we discover that many prefer NOT to do at all or to do for all the wrong reasons. We have been called, commanded, and challenged to live in a way that others can see Christ in us. This is seen in whether we are selfish or selfless, generous or stingy, righteous or evil. Our actions, our activities, and our attitudes convey much more than our words.
* An old axiom is this, “you can do the RIGHT thing in the wrong way or for the wrong reason and still be wrong. However, you can never do the wrong thing an ‘a’ right way.” So it is not only ‘what’ we do but, according to our Lord, it matters ‘why’ we do it. Each day we are faced with choices where we have to decide these things. Will we conform to the evil deeds which we see? Will we be a part of character assassination? Will we hear words of hurt about others and simply turn our heads as if to say, “I agree.” By the way, when we hear derogatory words being spoken & we say nothing, we tacitly agree. (Silence is agreement).
* When Christ walked on planet earth, He chose His words carefully so as to teach all of us ‘How to do life.’ With His words & His life, He confronted evil wherever He discovered it. Even though it wasn’t popular, He countered the scribes, Pharisees, and others who presented a skewed view of godliness. His half-brother on earth, James, then picked up the mantle and gave us this very practical book (which bears his name) to help us know “How to do Life” & how to do it in a way which please our Heavenly Father. While our study thus far has been helpful, James is about to get personal to the point of being painful as he deals with issues which are uncomfortable.
* (READ TEXT) Having just completed his introduction by dealing with trials, temptations, and the like, James gives us 4 thoughts to help us live like Christ’s ambassadors in this fallen world. We can tell how difficult these words are to write because James feels the need to reinforce his love and affection for the original readers. Then he exhorts us to;
1. Listen Carefully – The scripture says, “Be Swift to Hear.” It is at this point that most people will expect a reminder that God gave us two ears and one mouth, so maybe we should get the anatomical hint. Add to this truth that the Bible speaks much about listening more than talking and listening with understanding. The writer of Proverbs tells us to ‘listen to counsel & receive instruction’ & that ‘plans fail when there is no counsel,’ & that whoever listens to counsel is wise.” Most would consider this to be the application for this passage, but it seems to me to say something else.
Just do it – Pg 2
* Consider all that James has written for us to understand. He is teaching “Kingdom Principles” and KP are always opposite of human reasoning & logic. How do you count it joy when trouble comes? How do you boast in poverty and resist temptation when the pull is so powerful? How are we to have confidence when the bottom falls out? All of these things boggle the human mind! Yet, this is exactly what James (inspired by the Spirit) says to us. James is saying, ‘Listen carefully to what the word of God is saying.’ Listen with full focus. The word ‘swift’ means be ‘ready, eager & willing to listen to God.’ In the Message, Gene Peterson writes, “Lead with your ears and follow with your mouth.” God’s words gives us what we need to ‘just do it’ in life. Otherwise we will find ourselves like those who “have ears but don’t hear”. It’s like the child (who may not be a kid, if you know what I mean) who you cannot hear what you are saying because they are forming their rebuttal. This reminds me of Moses at the burning bush, God said, “I will” and Moses said, “I can’t” and “they won’t.”
* Not one person in this room will argue that when the scriptures tell us to ‘repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ” to be saved. No one will second guess that “God loves the world so much that He gave Jesus for us.” However, there seems to be a “disconnect” between our talk & our listening. The same God who gave the word about repentance & new life gives us a word about living the holy life. He tells put off some things, to put away some thing, to put to death something, and to put on some new things. These are not specifically ‘one time’ events. These changes continue throughout our lives. Listen carefully to what we are told and respond to the word He gives.
2. Speak Cautiously - When reading the phrase “slow to speak” I am reminded of the one writer wrote these words, “The righteous speak little, and do much; the wicked speak much, and do nothing.” Another writer put it this way, “Be swift to hear, and with deep consideration give answer.” When we realize that this text is specifically talking about listening to God voice & responding carefully, a whole new world of applications comes to mind.
a. First, we must know what God’s word says. Too often we depend on others (I.E. pastor, teacher, etc) to tell us what the Bible says so we are at the mercy of another. The result is we may take on the negative attitude about something God says because it has been misquoted or spun.
b. Next, we must believe what God’s word says. If you do not believe what the word of God says, I have sad news for you—you are without hope. Hope is only found in Jesus, God’s Son & Sacrifice, and Jesus is only found in God’s word. Without Him, where would I be?
c. Next, we must apply what God’s word says. As simply as this sounds, it will bring tests and trials into your life. You will succeed & you will fail.
Just do it – Pg 3
* Here is the payoff; the words you speak about our Lord and His body (the church) will control you because, “Out of the heart, the mouth speaks.” When we get our hands around this one truth, it will revolutionize our lives. The altar will be filled with people who are repenting and with tears from the people because it will break our hearts to realize how much often we have broken His heart. How do we break His heart? According to James, by allowing our tongue to run controllably. When James says, “Be slow to speak” in the first chapter, he is just beginning a full frontal assault on the use of the tongue. (Read 1:26, 3:1ff, 4:3, 4:11, 4:16, 5:9, 5:12, 5:13, and 5:15-16) Our Lord is serious about how we use our tongues. We will be accountable. Paul commands us to have our speech littered with grace and seasoned with salt. Can you imagine the difference in the believability of the offer from God ‘if’ those who bear His name would speak with grace? I am convinced that as bad a sexual immorality is within the walls of the church, it is not as prevalent as is the SIN of an uncontrolled tongue. An out of control tongue is like an out of control car, tiger, or chain saw.
* The call from our Lord is to control our tongue toward each our brothers & sister, toward our enemies, and toward our God. It’s called self-control.
3. Act Righteously – The text says, “Be SLOW TO ANGER” and doesn’t stop there. Be slow to anger because anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness and conversely, it seems to produce moral filth & evil excess. Today there is a tendency to forget the expectations of our Heavenly Father. He expects us to promote righteousness by our righteous living. A simple definition of righteousness is living according to a religious or moral code which, in essence, means ‘right before God.’ Our Lord expects us to act in a way which advances His code & standard on earth. One of the things which do not accomplish this is ‘anger.’ Have you given any study to the scriptures which teach us about the sin of anger? Proverbs 29:11 tells us that ‘a fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man holds it in check.’ “Full vent” is an unrestrained, ongoing, continuous, and never letting up type of emotional release. The concept of the ‘angry person’ being a fool is prominent in scripture. In Job 5, Job says, “Anger kills a fool.” Look at the screen and consider the teachings of the Bible (Job 5:2, Prov 15:18, Prov 19:19, Prov 27:4, Ecc 7:9). In the New Testament, Jesus weighed in on anger in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:22). Obviously, Paul had witnessed the unrighteousness among God’s people because He spoke repeatedly about the need to deal with anger (2 Cor. 12:20, Gal. 5:19-21, Col. 3:8, Eph 4:26-30, 1 Tim 2:8). There is little as unrighteous as a angry person. Some are saying, “Well Jesus got angry.” Yes He did. In the Old Testament there are almost 100 references to God & anger. It is all about what we get angry about.
Just do it – Pg 4
* Scriptures teach us that God’s anger centered on disobedience to His commands. God expects us to be obey His word and His word will always lead us to righteousness. Jesus’ anger centered on attempting to change the focus of the house of God. So let’s do a checkup. Does my anger center on the things of my Master or on ME? What does it take for me to lose my cool? It is impossible to act righteously when ungodly anger is controlling us. We’ll never be God’s person as long as this controls us.
4. Walk Spiritually – Look at the last part of verse 21. (Read) I’ll suggest three thoughts which will assist us in ‘walking spiritually.
a. Have the right approach – How we approach any part of life is the determining factor of how successful we are in that area of life. We are told to ‘humbly’ receive. The word humbly means, “With a sense of meekness and/or gentleness”. Never forget, “No one ever struts into the presence of the King”, we must come humbly into His word, listening carefully for His voice, speaking cautiously to make sure I am hearing Him correctly, and the result is that I will act righteously. It begins with this.
* When we approach God and His word, it is imperative that we cast aside our pre-conceived notions, thoughts, and concepts.
b. Have the right attitude- Knowing we come ‘humbly’ to Him, we then have to ‘receive’ or ‘accept’ or ‘embrace’ the implanted, engrafted word. To receive it means we ‘take hold of it” and live it out. Our attitude has a great deal to do with this. There is seemingly a common attitude in the American church today which subtly says, “I don’t need to alter my life or my actions at all.” So there is little or no growth spiritual growth. If we have the attitude that “I don’t need to grow, change, or develop, then we cannot become more like Christ and the world never sees Jesus in us.
c. Have the right acceptance- The word of God gives us the road map to salvation and life. It can only shape us when we receive and accept. When through the word the Holy Spirit speaks to our heart about our need to receive Jesus, we must respond. When we sense God speaking to us about our anger, wrath, thought-life, sharing our faith, or any other thing, we must receive, accept and do.
Through United Press comes the report that termites have eaten through a large stack of pamphlets entitled, Control of Termites, in the mailing room of the University of California at Berkeley. Maintenance men made the discovery. One would naturally expect that university buildings would be free of termites, because at such a center of higher education so much is known of termites and the destruction they cause. But it is one thing to have in a pamphlet the information concerning the control of termites, and quite another thing to make a practical application of that information! Speaking to His disciples on one occasion, the Lord Jesus said regarding the things He taught them, "If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them."