Listening & Doing 1

We are going to do the next section in two parts, today Listening now and next week more of the doing.

James 1: 13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but Slow to listen, quick to speak leads to escalation!. 16 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers. 17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.

James in writing this passage is establishing a principle:  that we as humans are like incubators that incubate whatever is placed in it.  The principle is described in verse 14-15.  There is an egg, it is fertilized with seed and we incubate it until it is birthed.

We are told not to deceive ourselves, why? Because the seed determines the fruit.  Where there is bad fruit, it is because of bad seed.  We cannot and should not blame God for our sin, because he is unchangeing, so is his word.  We are born again by the seed of his word  which will always bring forth the nature of Christ in us.

So now looking at Listening and Doing:

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.

We don’t listen because we want to be heard more than we want to understand. As people try all the harder to be understood while not understanding, we get frustrated by others’ apparent unwillingness to listen and we get angry and will use it to force home our point of view, by which time sin is about to mature into death!

While anger in itself is not sin, because Jesus was angry at times yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15), anger does not in itself bring forth the righteous life that God desires.  Anger is an emotional state that can be entirely appropriate at times and entirely unhelpful at others.  In fact we often use anger to put a point of view across more forcefully!

So what’s with “all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent”?  Well, it can be like seed, and if it connects with our desires, it will bring forth sin in our lives. Paul has established that there are 2 aspects to temptation, our own fleshly/carnal desires that we respond to as well as the enticement of the world.  In this case, the carnal desire is pride.  The world is a system that functions differently and has different values.  The worldly system respects might and favours the forceful.  It is a natural progression of survival of the fittest!

When selfish pride and forcefulness combine in the shape of not listening, it brings forth anger and  it hatches self righteousness, contrary to God’s righteousness.  Know any unteachable people?

So what is the solution?

“Humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.”

We need humility in our hearts, added to which the implanted seed of the word of God through willingness to listen and to learn,  brings forth the ever increasing righteousness of God that saves us from sin.  Remember that humility is not thinking less of our self, but of our selves less.  It implies a readiness to listen, and to be taught.

Lastly, notice that is says it can save you, not that it will automatically do so.  Come back for more on that next week!

Application:

Which do you do more of, listen or speak?

How teachable are you?

What is the one thing that needs to change?

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