James 1:19–27comment (0)
July 23, 2009
By Jay T. Robertson
Related Scripture: James 1:19–27
Explore the Bible
Assistant Professor of Christian Studies, School of Christian Studies, University of Mobile
HOW GENUINE ARE YOU?
The central theme of this passage of Scripture is practical Christianity mandated by “the word of truth,” which is the gospel (James 1:18), and characterized by both truly “hearing” and then resolutely “doing” the truth. Obedience is the hallmark of the true Christ-follower. The new birth of verse 18 will result in new behavior.
Accept God’s Word (19–21)
In these verses, James shows us the importance of the Word of God in maintaining, disciplining and maturing the spiritual life of the believer. The Word demands our attention. We must make hearing the Word a high priority in our lives. It seems that many even in the Church are allergic to theology and irritated by doctrine. If we were as patient and quick to hear as we are ready to speak, then there would be less anger and more profit when we gather for worship. Not only should we hear the Word readily but we also should hear it quietly, with reverent attention.
We should ask the Lord to help us concentrate as we hear the Word taught. We also should hear the Word calmly. We cannot hear the voice of the Holy Spirit clearly when we harbor angry feelings. There can be no reverent hearing of God’s Word when we grumble against God or speak hostile words against fellow believers. “[M]an’s anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness.” The anger of men hinders them from attaining the righteousness and accomplishing the duty described in the Bible.
The Word of God demands reception. We not only must hear the Word but also must receive it into our hearts in such a way that it transforms the way we live. We are to welcome the Word humbly. We are to embrace the truth of the Word and make it our own. We must welcome the Word with repentance and put out of our lives everything it condemns. We also must welcome the Word with readiness, with a willingness to obey it. Christ-followers must have teachable spirits. Are you genuine? Are you being transformed by the Word of God?
Act on God’s Word (22–25)
True hearing and receiving of the Word leads to obeying it. Teachers need to keep in mind why they teach — so their disciples hear the truth of God and submit their lives to that truth by obeying it in every area of their lives. Peter Lord said, “What we really believe, we live by. The rest is just religious talk.”
Doing the Word involves personal responsibility. Each believer must take responsibility to submit to its authority and obey its commandments consistently in all aspects of life. Doing the Word involves personal reflection. Hearing without doing is of little or no benefit. Looking intently at your face in the mirror and then forgetting what you look like demonstrates the folly of examining yourself in God’s mirror of the “implanted word” (James 1:21) and then doing nothing about it. When you see imperfections (as when looking in a mirror), common sense says something should be done about them. Here’s a crucial question: Is your knowledge of the Word of God making you more like Jesus? Doing the Word involves personal remembrance. Do you give the Word a casual glance every now and then, or do you give it a careful gaze daily? Is the Word of God transforming who you are and shaping how you live your life daily?
Apply God’s Word (26–27)
Doing the Word involves personal righteousness. These verses contain three tests for applied Christianity. James is not describing the hypocrite here. Rather he is describing the self-deceived person. So how can a person know if he or she is genuine? Genuine believers must have control over their tongues. All the observances of ceremonial religion are futile and void of meaning as long as a person does not control his or her tongue. Genuine believers must have compassion for the needy. Real worship results in practical ministry. Whose life are you touching for God? Genuine believers must have cleanliness in their lifestyle. Moral purity and personal integrity are essential components of a Christ-follower’s lifestyle.