Google+ 01/26/13 Listening is Not Enough!

James 1:19-23

 

Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters:

You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.

Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.

So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts,

For it has the power to save your souls.

But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says.

Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.

For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. 

 

James, the half brother of Jesus, was a wise man.  He practiced what he preached.  We should too!  This Scripture has two really important things for us to learn.  The book of James is often referred to as the "Proverbs" of the New Testament.  There is much evidence to suggest that the Epistle of James was one of the first books written in the New Testament.  It is also considered to be the most "Jewish" of all the New Testament books, giving us a very good idea of who James was addressing!  As a final bit of evidence of the dating of this book, there appears to be no mention of a Jewish-Gentile struggle in this book.  This fact, coupled with the simple church structure that is discussed (no bishops or deacons, only elders), we believe James was written prior to 49 A.D.  We would all be well served by James' statement that, when dealing with God and each other, we should be "quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger."  The next statement is very important.  James classifies our anger as "human anger."  This removes the argument of those who blame or justify their anger on God, proclaiming that anger is okay because "God got angry!"  God's anger (and Jesus') was righteous anger and was divine.  God's anger always came after every chance had been given the world to change and repent.  Remember how many times God gave Lot chances to find righteous people before God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah?  What causes anger?  James tells us that filth and evil are the culprits.  We are to get rid of these emotions so they do not poison our hearts to the true word of God, which has been planted in our heart.   James tells us that this "word" has the power to save our souls.  So, point number one.  Be slow to speak, especially in anger, and listen carefully.  If you are already harboring anger, get rid of it so that the word of God that is planted in your heart can shine through to others and save your soul.    Don't miss point number two.  James says that we can't stop with just listening to God.  That is simply not enough.  James tells us we must DO what God says.  Why?  Because if we don't, we are fooling ourselves.  So that we are not confused, James finishes by telling us that if we only listen and don't obey, we are looking at a temporary, often inaccurate, reflection of ourselves and God.  Wow, this is so true.  This is often why people stop going to churches and denounce organized religion of any kind.  They simply don't see Christians doing what they say.  How can you call anyone your "Family of God" if you are never there when they need you?  By the way, they need you all the time.  When I signed on to be a "Levite," I accepted that my "spiritual doorbell" would ring all day and all night.  In the Old Testament, this is why when Moses and Joshua divided up "the Promised Land," every tribe made provisions for the Levites and where they would live, which by Biblical decree, was always in the center of town.  This is why the first church in Acts led by Peter had everyone living in the same proximity and sharing their resources.  Ministers of the Gospel need to be accessible to all the people, all the time.  So, as you travel around in your life today, make sure that the people you come in contact with see Jesus in you.  It may be their only positive exposure to God.  But most of all remember, listening is not enough!