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James 1:19-27

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Open our Bibles to James ch 1 beginning in vs 19

Recap of Setting

As we recap I think we can a dd a few things about this audience that is evidenced in this book itself
This is coming from James who I believe we agreed was the brother of Christ
These communities are established and meet regurlaly with elders and teachers among them (2:2, 5:14, 3:1)
This communitiy appears to reguard themsevles as poor though this obviously are not dirt poor because they are exhorted to use what they have to provide for the needs of one another (2:15-16)
They also may be a mix of business men as James teaches them how to view their “trading” in 4:13-15 but also may have been some farmers because of the agricultural references in 5:4,7
in 2:6-7 we also see that this church is not so poor that they resent the rich either, they are on the opposite side where James is exhorting them not to give the rich preferential treatment. These churches were to ready to welcome the rich
An urban environment is most likly knowing that Christianity moved through cities then to the county. These dispursed cities were often very multicultural.
James utilizes metaphores often found in Greek and Latin literature (horses and ship, the mist) as well as superstitions (demons shuddering and running similar to magical papyri) but as makes some references to the Jewish law and even quotes from it in 2:11. There is still no refernce to Jew holidays or observances of festivals or sacred meals
Long story short this is a mix of believers who likely fall under “god-fearers”: non-Jews who were attracted to what they saw in Jewish Philosphy who became a ready audience for Christianity

Recap of ch1 so far

Rob talked about the hard ship of living out our faith within the surrounding world. Essentially being in the world and not of it.
We saw a lot of talk about trials in
James 1:2 Count it all joy..when you meet trials
James 1:12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial
We learned the source of tempation in James 1:13
and the source of every good gift James 1:17

In Today’s text, James exhorts us in the primacy of God’s word as it relates to hearing and doing in the life of a believer

19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. 21 Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

26 If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. 27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

Pray
Before we get going on vs 19 let back track one verse to where James left off at.
18 Of his own will he (God) brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
James has introduced the “Word of truth” into this letter. How we approach this will make us or break us.
This word is the word that remains forever,
the word that reproves us, rebukes us, and exhorts us
the word that is living and active and sharp enough to penetrate deep into our hearts (between soul and spirit)
After introducing the word James then begins telling us how to listen to it when it is spoken. The goal of the word is ultimately to changes in obedient followers
Before the Word can shape our actions, it first has to take root and be “implanted” as James says. And before it can be implanted in us it first has to be heard and received.
19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. 21 Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
For the word to be implanted, it must be recieved with meekness (this is a right attitude of the heart). Meekness cannot coincide with wickedness or anger. Those who are slow to listen, angry, and wicked will not produce wickedness but rather the one who receives the implanted word with meekness.
Before we go on further into doing I want to dwell on this idea of listening as this has been a challenge that I have found very helpful and continually heart checking myself!

The Bible has I believe roughly equal reference to listening as it does for speaking.

Jesus himself hammers home on this topic of receiving the word in Luke 8:5-8
Turn your attention there for a moment and then we will come back
Luke 8:5–8 ESV
“A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell along the path and was trampled underfoot, and the birds of the air devoured it. And some fell on the rock, and as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up with it and choked it. And some fell into good soil and grew and yielded a hundredfold.” As he said these things, he called out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
When the word is being preached or even in a Bible study setting with the word, the reason we may respond differently has more to do with our hearts then our ears.
How do we prepare our hearts or in this passage- our soil to listen.
In this parable Jesus uses four kinds of soil to illustrate four kinds of hearts on which the Word can land.
the stubborn- un-receptive heart (the ones that land in the walking patch and trampled)
people indifferent to the word of God, may be regular attenders in our churches but could care less about what is said
disinterested and distracted
in one ear and out the other
Heart packed down by sin, suppress the truth and become hardened
the shallow- superficial heart (those in the rocky soil)
the impulsive and enthusiastic one, the one who embraces the word without counting the cost
as soon as affliction comes they ditch faith and the church
a worldly - strangled heart (those in the thorns)
receives the word but it becomes choked out by the things of the world
faith dies slowly by anxieties, material distractions, and desires that lead away from Christ
profess to follow Jesus but slowly someone or something else becomes more important
the heart we all need - a soft, receptive heart
Those who hear not just to understand- but to obey
the word is able to produce results in their life creating true lasting change
With these four types of soil I think we can pause and ask what kind of soil have we been lately

Now bringing this back, are we listening the Word of God and receiving it with a heart made of good soil so that it may be implanted in us and therefore able to save our souls?

It is this implanting of the word in a tilled up soft heart that leads to obedience and doing God’s word.

22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

It sounds to me here like James is writing to the wordly/strangled heart among the thorns. These believers are caught up in status prefering the rich, preferring social status, or just generally worldy ambission. They have heard the word but there may be weeds growing in their hearts.
If these weeds are allowed to grow, whether in the form of anger or wickedness, they will choke the seed of God’s word inside them. This will be evident when their faith is dead without works.

26 If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. 27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

For these believers who may have been seeking status and preferring the richer among them, being possibly quick to speak and slow to listen, their religion becomes worthless. If their religion is not leading to eyes that see everyone equal in Christ, the orphan, the widow, or remaining stained by the world with loose lips and wickedness, then their religion is worthless.
Based on this text, I think we can give ourselves a gut check and work backwards
We can start by using James words, is our religion worth anything? Is it bearing fruit into how treat those around us. What is the outflow of our life
If we are struggling in any area, then maybe we should back ourselves up and check our hearts
Are we listening to the word with good soil or are we restricting it with poor hearts and worldly concerns.
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