James 1:16-27 (ESV Strong’s Bible)
16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers.
17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. 18 Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.19 Know this, my beloved brothers:
James seeks to provide tests that a true Christian can take in order to assure themselves of their salvation. In 1:1-12, James adresees how to handle trials as a Christian and in 1:13-15, James addresses how a Cnristian handles temptations. From verse 16-27, James now moves to addressing how a Christian reacts to the word of God and that is our message.
From 16-19a, James highlights and reminds us all that every good gift and every perfect gift is from God and by His own will, He brought us forth by the word of Truth. Then James says, this, we must know. There is more to be said on these verses but for now, that is where we will love it.
Going through this message, we will see that James discusses three things:
1- Hearing the word of Truth (Getting rid of obstacles to hearing the word)
2- Recieving the word of Truth (Getting rid of obstacles to recieving the word)
3- Obdeying the word of Truth
1- Hearing the word of Truth
let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
We now look at how we need to hear the word. Firstly James says let every one of us be quick to hear. Since the hearing is in the context of the word, we can understand that James says that we must be quick to hear the word. The word to hear means also to listen. So, let us be quick to listen to the word.
Then James says let us be slow to speak. The word in Greek translated here as speak is “laleo” which also means to talk at random or to talk too much when reffering to children. It also means to preach. It has been translated 6 times in the Authorised Version as the word “preach”. So, James says that we must be slow to speak, meaning we must be slow to preach the word. Proverbs 17:27 says that whoever restrains his words has understanding. It makes sense then to be slow to speak or preach because in a sense you are restraining your words since you are taking time to speak. This will in turn allow you to hear more. So, restrain your words, take time to speak or preach and you will hear more and have more understanding of the word. In a nudshell, take time to be a preacher, spend more time listening to the word than preaching the word.
Then James says to us that we must also be slow to anger, and the reason is that anger does not produce the righteousness of God. Jesus also said in Matthews that if you are angry with your brother, you are liable to judgement. Proverbs 14:29 says that whoever is slow to anger has great understanding. In the context of what James is talking about, this anger is as a result of the word that we are hearing which is convicting us and therefore making us angry. So, we get angry because of the convicting word of Truth that we are hearing. James then says we must be slow to anger because of the word and as Proverbs say, if we restrain our anger, we will have great understanding. This will allow us to hear more of the word.
So, we must be quick to hear but, for us to be able to quickly hear the word, we must do two things, we must be slow to speak or preach the word of Truth, and we must be slow to anger because of the word of Truth when spoken to us. If we do these, we will be able to quickly hear the word of Truth which is the word of God.
2- Recieving the word of Truth
21 Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
Having heard the word of Truth, now we need to actually recieve the word as well. James now tells us how to recieve the word of God or the word of Truth. Firstly, James says that we must put away all filthiness meaning moral impurities or uncleanness. Secondly, we must put away all abundant evil in us and all abundant evil that we do. The word wickedness has to do with not only being evil but also doing evil. The word rampant also means overflowing, extra ordinary or abundant. So, James is saying we must get rid of all forms of abundant evil wether being the actual acts or the intended act. Thirdly, we must then receive the implanted word, meaning the word that is planted already in us, with meekness or humility.
The implantation of the word refers in my view to Jer 31:33, where God said that He will put his laws in us and write His law on our hearts. So, the word of Truth is already planted in us, all we have to do to recieve it, it is to get rid of all immorality, abundance of evil and humble ourselves before God. Then, we will be able to recieve the word. By the way the word in Greek, translated here as receive, is the word “dechomai” which also means to accept an offer deliberately and readily. This means when we do all these things: getting rid of all immorality, abundance of evil and humbling ourselves before God, we are deliberately making ourselves ready to accept the offer that God is giving to us, which is the word of Truth.
Remember that the word of Truth is like a seed that needs good soil to grow in and produce fruits. So, when we get rid of all things that prevents us from hearing and recieving the word of Truth or the word of God, what we are actually doing is that, we are preparing our hearts to be suitable and ready to be a good soil to the seed which is the word. This will allow the seed or the word to grow in us and allow us to produce fruits. Jesus spoke of four different types of hearts that receive the word:
Luke 8:12-15 (NIV)
12 Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved.
13 Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away.
14 The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature.
15 But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.
If our hearts ar not properly prepared, if our hearts are not good soil for the word, the word will not grow and produce fruit. So, we must get rid of all immorality, abundance of evil and humble ourselves before God so that we are able to accept the word of Truth and produce fruits.
3- Obdeying the word of Truth
We will continue in Part 2 of This message.