James: Encountering the Torah of Freedom – Chapter 1 Part 4

Hello everybody, it’s nice to see you all here, and I hope everyone here and those online are all doing well. Today we’re going to continue reading through the Book of James, one which I particularly like because when I became a believer, it was actually the first book in the Bible that I found myself reading all the way through. It also helped that it only has five chapters. Anyways, jumping right in, we’ll be taking a look at James chapter 1 verses 19 to 27 which says

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. 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. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. 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.

James 1:19-27 NIV

Right away, in the first verse we get some good nuggets of wisdom, reading through the next couple of verses, we see our first point take form. Which is to…

Listen

In verses 19-21, we see James sharing with us advice on Christian living. To be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. Sounds a bit like a proverb. I don’t know about everyone else, but I know if I’m angry or I can’t take a break from talking, it makes it really difficult to listen and learn. He goes on to say that human anger doesn’t produce the kind of righteousness that God desires.

So what does? Well for starters we need to rid ourselves of all moral filth and evil, putting those things aside and we need to humbly accept the Word of God. Those sound like some strong words to me, but I think it goes to show just how strongly James feels about the subject. We need to turn away from those things that put us at odds with God, and come before Him and His Word, open to what He has to say. His words which result in life. James was a very practical fellow. He sees the life of a believer as more than just a confession of faith, He sees saving faith as something which results in a change in lifestyle and actions. Sort of a rubber meets the road kind of guy. All of this falls in line with my second point.

First you’ve got to listen, second you’ve got to

Do

This order that James chose to write in makes sense because if we don’t know what Scripture says how are we supposed to live it out? The next verse,

“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”

James 1: 22

Pretty straightforward. I like it.

Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.

James 1:23-25 NIV

I really like the use of a mirror in James’ illustration. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that it’s one of my favorite illustrations in all of Scripture. In many ways, Scripture is like a mirror. It can reveal things to us about ourselves that we didn’t already know or pay attention to previously. I can see myself from different angles and it helps me recognize things that I may need to change. Some people in the world like to point the mirror at others, so others can see their own imperfections. I can imagine I’m not the only one here who has met people who have done that.

Sometimes it’s easier not looking at my own imperfections, but then that leads to the same problem that James is talking about. Whether I have the mirror turned away from me or I forget what I look like after I turn away from it, it becomes something that is useless to me. It wouldn’t bear fruit in my life. Instead, if I were to utilize this mirror, the perfect Word of God, reading and acting upon it, then I would be blessed in what I do. Sometimes I forget what a powerful tool God has given us, but I pray more and more that it’s immeasurable value is continuously made known to me. So that I may not only listen to what it says, but do what it says.

I’ll move to my final point.

Continue Doing

Yep, there’s more, but not a lot more. Ending the 1st chapter of James, He reminds us to keep a tight rein on our tongue and that Religion, which can be good or bad depending on how it’s lived out, is accepted as pure and faultless by God when we take care of the orphans and widows, not allowing ourselves to become polluted by the world.

In closing, let’s be the people that Listen to God’s Word, and Do what it says. Put it into practice, every second of every day. I don’t want to be the person who reads Scripture, and when I’m finished, closes the book and goes about my life as if I’m not changed.

“‘“The Lord bless you and keep you;

25 the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you;

26 the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”’

Numbers 6:24-26