Summary: Sermon 2/2 in the Introduction to James Series
Receive the Word Well
Scripture: James 1:19-25
Selective hearing – Wendy – I forget ….it used to be I was playing a game…. Thinks I am not listening to her. I have improved some – still room. Today’s text – not listening to God – when we are doing something else…
I. Lay Aside Your Wrath (vv 19-21)
SWIFT to hear
SLOW to speak
SLOW to wrath
In our actions we are given an example here. Whether our dealing is with God or other people, we are instructed to be SWIFT to hear, SLOW to speak, and SLOW to wrath or anger.
v.20 - When a Christian gives way to venting the wrath inside of himself or herself, the righteousness of God is elusive to this person. When I release my frustrations constantly on people there is NO room for the love of God in my heart. Also, when I am venting my anger – God’s righteousness in his justice is hindered by my actions.
In a medical study of nearly 30 men in Florida, after going through stress tests, fear, and mental stress tests, doctors concluded that anger reduced the amount of blood flow and increased pressure from the heart into vital organs. Anger has so many affects on us physically – it’s no wonder that God’s desire is for us to remove our anger. There are various instances throughout the Biblical text that teach us about anger.
A patient man has great understanding,
but a quick-tempered man displays folly.
Recall Uzziah [you ZIE uh], and his anger management problem in 2 Chronicles 26, where in verse 19 his anger lead to leprosy :
2 Chron 26:19
19 Uzziah, who had a censer in his hand ready to burn incense, became angry.
While he was raging at the priests in their presence before the incense altar in the LORD’s temple, leprosy broke out on his forehead.
Much like the spread of leprosy on Uzziah’s forehead, our anger has a tendency to spread as well.
In the spring of 1894, the Baltimore Orioles came to Boston to play a routine baseball game. But what happened that day was anything but routine. The Orioles’ John McGraw got into a fight with the Boston third baseman. Within minutes all the players from both teams had joined in the brawl. The warfare quickly spread to the grandstands. Among the fans the conflict went from bad to worse. Someone set fire to the stands and the entire ballpark burned to the ground. Not only that, but the fire spread to 107 other Boston buildings as well.
Daily Bread, August 13, 1992.
So many times I think we want to question God and ask why? Anytime you ask a child to do something it seems like they have the same question. The parent is asking the child to do it for the right reasons – to benefit the child, but the child has such a limited grasp of the situation. We are similar…
God asks us to put away our anger – and so our response – we should put away our wrath.
II. BUT Why???!?! (vv 22-25)
Why would God desire be for us not to be filled with wrath? Other than those answers we’ve already explored: If we are filled with wrath we cannot live out His Word in our life.
Christianity is more than just about listening (v. 19). It is important to listen as James just pointed out, but it is also necessary to be a DOER OF THE WORD. Buuuutttt……Why?
James says if we are a hearer only and not a doer – we deceive ourselves. But he doesn’t leave it at that – he continues to make it abundantly clear to us:
If we hear what God tells us to do and we do not do it we are like a person who looks into a mirror and sees his reflection. However immediately following this the person goes on doing whatever – completely forgetting what he just saw!
The tenses used for the verbs here indicate James is stressing the impression the man gets is TEMPORARY and then instantly ERADICATES any memory of this impression.
But we are called to be different in v. 25. Again the imagery of looking into something reflective – the law of liberty. Rather than being reflective of our outer self like a mirror however, the law of liberty is reflective of who we are on the inside.
Note he calls it the PERFECT law of liberty.
7 The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul;
The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple;
8 The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes;