Friday, April 3, 2020
Praise God for the continued opportunity to gather together. We may be connecting using creative methods like Facebook and Youtube, but at least we are able to continue coming together in the Lord’s name!
Yesterday, James provided us with an encouragement to consider how we will respond as we continue our journey of faith maturation and completion. We can demonstrate the righteousness of God in the way we respond when facing the trials of life, or we can allow human nature to stimulate us to anger, responding out of emotion, and thwarting the joy of exhibiting a teachable spirit by refusing to listen to wisdom, God’s wisdom.
James continues in verses 21-22 by directing our attention to the greatest source we could possibly have at our fingertips – the Word of God. “Therefore, get rid of moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.”
This is an important passage because it lays the groundwork for the next theme James is introducing – receiving God’s Word. Verse 21 contains four different aspects of receiving God’s Word:
•First, get prepared to receive it. James identified the preparation stage as the stage where we “get rid of filth and the evil that is so prevalent.” This probably doesn’t need a lot of explanation. The prophet Isaiah accepted the commission to take God’s truth to the people. He was instructed to tell them they would “be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving” because their hearts had become calloused and beyond repentance. And yet 1 John 1:9 tell us: “If we confess our sings, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” It is necessary for us to deal with the sin that so easily entangles us. Doing so will allow us to be prepared to receive God’s Word.
•Second, we need to have the right attitude in receiving God’s Word. It should be humbly received with meekness. Receiving the Word of God is equivalent to receiving instruction. Scripture is God’s primary method of communicating with His children. When James says be quick to listen, he is suggesting that we should be receptive of the instruction God is going to provide. Solomon shared in Proverbs 19:20 “Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise.” Solomon also s1id: “To answer before listening – that is folly and shame.” (Proverbs 18:13)
•Third – focus on what you are receiving – James states “the Word implanted in You.” There is a different between truth we are exposed to but not absorbed into the mind, and a truth we are exposed to which becomes IMPLANTED in our minds and hearts. When a seed is implanted into the ground, it is immersed into the soil and as a result, that seed takes on an entirely new dimension, it flourishes into a plant/tree/bush/flower whatever the end result is intended to be. When we allow the Word to become IMPLANTED in us, we become transformed as well. Paul shared the impact of receiving the Word of God in his first letter to the church in Thessaloniki. “And we also thank God continually because, when you received the Word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it, now as a human word, but as it actually is, the Word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe.” (2:13)
•Fourth – Let the reception of the Word of God change your life. James states that it will “save you.” This is a letter going to believers, so, they have already received the gift of salvation. As we reflect on what James may have been conveying, it seems appropriate to consider he may have meant a deeper level of salvation. Since this isa letter whose main theme is growing a mature/complete faith, it seems James’ phrase about being saved by the implanted Word can easily be applied to that journey of faith maturation.
It is tempting to ask God to “save” us from our trials and tribulations. Throughout scripture we have example after example of the nation of Israel asking God to “save” them from their enemies.
There also exists the possibility that people will begin to doubt their salvation when they are facing the trials of life. When we question God’s faithfulness (“God, why is this happening?”; “God, don’t you see what I am going through.”; “Where are you God?”, etc.) the next step in that downward spiral is to question one’s salvation.
James is encouraging his reader to realize that when they receive the Word of God to the extent that it becomes implanted in their hearts and minds, they will be in a position to receive the wisdom that God will generously give them through the truth contained in His Word. Growing in God’s wisdom and allowing the Word of God to become IMPLANTED in one’s heart will lead them to enjoy the fullness of their salvation, not just in the new heaven and earth, but in the present!
Tomorrow, we will have an opportunity to look at James’ next challenge to his readers, becoming obedient to the Word of God.
Have a great day!