Summary: Third in a series on James. Three step plan for benefiting from the Word of God.
A Study of the Book of James
Sermon # 3
“You Can Benefit From The Word of God”
At least once each day, and probably several times, we stand before a mirror and review the way we look. If an adjust-ment is necessary, and it usually is, then we straighten our clothes or comb our hair all because the mirror has helped us by revealing things about how we really look.
This morning I want to point you to something that can forever change your image of yourself and even has the potential to change the way others see you. The word of God is moral mirror which the Holy Spirit uses to enable us to see ourselves as we really are. The view we get is not what we think based on experience or what others think based on their observations, it is how God see us.
But the problem is that many people today don’t read or understand the Bible. This is not because they don’t have a Bible. The Bible is present in almost every home in America. The problem is that it is not read and applied.
According to a recent Gallop Poll “eighty-two percent of the Americans believe that the Bible is either literal or the “inspired” Word of God… more than half stated they read their Bible at least monthly. Yet half couldn’t name even one of the four gospels and fewer than half knew who delivered the Sermon on the Mount.” [As cited by David Jeremiah. Turning Toward Integrity. (Wheaton: Victor Books, 1993). p. 42]
You can benefit from the Bible! The problem in our world today is not that the Bible is irrelevant, it is just not read, understood, and applied to daily living.
The Bible is a very practical book. Would you like to benefit from the Bible? Would you like to integrate the Bible into your daily life? Wouldn’t you like to know the practical steps that guarantee that you can benefit from the Bible? Let’s take a few moments and examine the steps that lead to receiving the benefits the Bible has to offer.
First, You Must Be Receptive To God’s Word (1:19-21)
“So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:(20) For the wrath of man does not produce righteousness of God.(21) Wherefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.”
The first step we must take is to be receptive to God’s word. In verse twenty-one, James tells us to “receive with meekness” or “humbly accept the word planted in you.” The word translated "receive" literally means "to welcome." The idea of “receiving or accepting” the Word has a connotation in the original language of showing hospitality. This word is used for how we receive others into our homes. Here it is used for how we receive the Word. In other words, we must cultivate a heart and life that welcomes the word. And what kind of life is that? It is a life characterized by an attitude of humility, of openness, of receptivity. And such a life must be prepared to receive the word just as soil is prepared to receive the seed. After all, James tells us that the word is “implanted in you.”
To adequately prepare our hearts, James gives us four guidelines we need to model. These behaviors will enable us to accept the word and receive the full benefit we should.
A. A Capacity to Listen —We must be quick to hear the Word of truth. "swift or quick to hear" refers to an alert ear. But James is not talking about just physically hearing the words as they impact our ears, but listening for what God has to say. "Quick to hear" describes an attentive heart, listening for what God has to say. That is often true when it comes to what God is trying to communicate to us. You can physically hear His Word and yet not really hear it. We not only have to concentrate on the facts, we have to concentrate on the attitude of our heart in hearing the facts. What are the things that keep us from hearing?
B. A Controlled Tongue “slow to
speak” One of the things that keeps us from hearing is that we need to be slow to speak. 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, if we can hear it.
Often, we don’t hear what someone is saying because we are not listening. We may ask them how they are doing, and we expect to hear an answer like "fine." That is what we are programmed to hear. If they start talking about how rough the week has been, we may be talking to someone else already. We are not quick to hear when it comes to receiving what others are trying to tell us. Sometimes we are like that with God.