James 1:18-27 (NIV)
18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.
19 My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,
20 for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.
21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.
22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.
23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror
24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.
25 But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it–he will be blessed in what he does.
26 If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.
27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
The Bible is a book of blessing. It promises comfort, strength, hope, wisdom, joy, power, and purpose. But just because you have a Bible doesn’t mean you’re going to get the benefit from it. James, being his practical self, gives us three steps on how to be blessed by the Bible.
v. 25 is a key verse, “The man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard but doing it, he will be blessed in what he does.” The Bible is called the perfect law because it’s exactly what I need. It promises freedom and it promises blessing, if we do what it says.
v.22 is a key verse, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” The Bible will guide you and protect you and show you od’s will for your life, IF. If you do what it says.
Jesus said it like this in Matthew 7:24-27 (NIV) – “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
James gives us three steps if we are going to get the full benefit of the Bible and the blessing God wants to bring to your life.
#1. I MUST RECEIVE GOD’S WORD IF I’M GOING TO BE BLESSED BY IT
vs. 21, “Accept the word planted in you.” Notice the word “accept”. This word in Greek is a hospitality term which literally means “to welcome” — come on in. If we’re going to be blessed by the word of God, first we must welcome the word of God into our lives. We must be receptive.
James gives an illustration. He says it’s planted in you. He gives the illustration of a garden and seed. The Bible, all through Scripture, compares itself to seed. Jesus told the parable of the sower and said, “The word of God is a seed and it’s planted in our hearts.” How is it you can take two seeds that are exactly the same and plant them in two different locations and get two different crops in fruitfulness? One soil is prepared and the other is not. How is it that you can take two people and put them in the same worship service, hearing the same message, the same sermon, and one person gets blessed by it and the other person says he didn’t get anything out of it. One heart was prepared and one wasn’t. James says we must receive the word of God with the right attitude. He gives us three attitudes you need to be blessed by God’s word. They are hearing-aides.
1. Be careful. I must have a careful attitude. v. 19 “Be quick to listen…” Give it your full attention. Be alert. Don’t miss it. “… slow to speak …” When I’m talking, I’m not listening. God gave us two ears and one mouth so we ought to listen twice as much as we talk. Many of our problems are caused because we’re quick to speak rather than being quick to listen. Be careful in your attitude. Be ready. Be intent. Be ready to receive God’s word. Be careful.
2. Be clean. v. 21 “Get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent…” Before you can plant the seed you need to do a little weeding. The word “filth” that James says you’ve got to get rid of is actually the Greek word that means “earwax”. When you have a sin in your life it blocks your hearing. It prevents God’s word from getting into your heart. He says get rid of the evil, anything that we know that isn’t right in our lives. God says, “Lay aside all of the emotional garbage, the old habits, the junk in your life so that God’s word can get through to you.”
How can we be clean? By confession. 1 john 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He’s faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” The Living Bible says “Get rid of all that’s wrong in your life, both inside and out.”
3. Be compliant. Teachable, yielded, humble, willing to be changed. He says “humbly accept the word of God planted in you…” Don’t act like you know it all. If you know it all, God’s word can’t get through to you. Pray, “God, do what You need to do in my life.”
Tomorrow, the other two things James says we must do to be blessed by God’s word.