The right TOOLS for the job
Let the Word Produce Action!
Our lives seem to always have a certain amount of drama but often there is more than expected. Is it something we invite into our lives by our actions or are we just victims of circumstances? How does God’s Word help us to ditch the drama?
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness 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 someone 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 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. 26 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their 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.
What reveals more about a person: actions or words? Why do you say so?
When have you seen someone’s actions match up with their words, even when doing so was difficult?
What do we communicate to other people when we don’t listen well or talk too much? What happens when these negative traits enter into our relationship with God?
In what area of your life could you do a better job applying God’s Word rather than just listening to it?
What three actions does James identify as evidences of genuine religion in verses 26-27?
God, help me to not just listen to what your Word says, but help me to put your Words into action. Help us put your your words into action regarding those who have less than us and need our help. Help our eyes to be open to the opportunities around us. Amen!
What area of your life do you need to hear more and speak less?
Is there an area in our community where your group can put James’ definition of true religion into practice?
1:19. James called his readers to three forms of self-discipline (v. 19). First, be quick to listen. Second, be slow to speak, a phrase meaning that we should be slow to begin speaking. Third, be slow to become angry or have slowness to speak up when angry, a self-discipline that helps to curb anger.
1:20. An angry spirit blocks the development of a God-pleasing righteous life, the goal that James held up throughout his letter (v. 20). Such human anger may take the forms of nursed grudges, a poisonous bitterness, or a settled hatred, all possibly stemming from real or perceived offenses in the past. All have the power to block spiritual growth.
1:21. Here James used the metaphor of removing soiled clothing (see Romans 13:12; Ephesians 4:22). We must eliminate everything in our lives that is contrary to God’s Word and prevents righteous living. In order to experience personal transformation, we should receive the teachings of God’s Word humbly rather than defensively or negatively. An humble attitude will provide an open door for God’s wisdom to penetrate our minds and hearts.
1:22. James was concerned that believers persevere in living out God’s Word (v. 22). The word “doers” refers to believers who hear the Word taught, read, or preached and put it into action in their lives. The term “hearer” describes someone who hears the words of Scripture without really listening to them. That person takes no actions as a result of attending a session in which the Bible is read and taught. People who do not act on God’s Word cheat themselves of the full, meaningful, and useful life God intends for them.
1:23. One who is content to listen to God’s Word and take no action is self-deceived because that individual has no clear, precise, lasting perception of self. James drew an illustration from everyday life to drive home this point (vv. 23-24).
1:24. James compared the person who listens without taking action with a man looking at his own face in a mirror but neglecting to do the needed grooming the mirror reveals.
1:25. In contrast to the person content to be a hearer of God’s Word without acting on it, James presented a doer who acts (v. 25). This person looks intently into the perfect law of freedom. The law to which James referred is perfect because it gives freedom. James probably had in mind the gospel, God’s message of salvation in Christ and the implications of redemption for daily living. It is this message of grace that sets people free.
1:26-27. Verses 26 and 27 paint three excellent portraits of genuine Christianity. Together they frame the essence but not the totality of “pure and undefiled religion” (v. 27). James gave practical aspects of following Christ to warn against self-deception. James painted the first portrait in negative terms. One who supposes he or she is religious, without controlling his tongue, is self-deceived. Evidently James identified a person who incorrectly assumes he or she is genuinely religious with a hearer who fails to act on God’s Word (see v. 22). No matter how industrious we are in performing religious acts, if we are not disciplined in our speech, our religion is useless—ineffective, fruitless, or empty.
Two positive, compelling portraits present pure and undefiled religion before God. Again, these snapshots were not intended to give a complete picture of a person’s relationship with God through Christ; they emphasize practical expressions of genuine discipleship. The first positive portrait of genuine religion shows believers as they look after orphans and widows in their distress. James’s second positive portrait of genuine Christianity depicted personal moral purity. Believers are to keep themselves unstained by the world. The term “world” refers to unredeemed people’s way of life. It is the sphere ruled by evil and thus opposed to God. Moral purity is evidence of a genuine relationship with Christ.