Brad Libolt speaking on James 1:19-21. He reminds how Jesus lived and encourages us to live like him. Emphasizing that the gospel is not something we achieve but something we receive from God.
19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;
We are all able to achieve things, but all these things we achieve takes work and effort; we have to do something to get that reward.
The gospel is the exact opposite of that, rather than achieving the gospel, it’s something we receive. We get the reward of the gospel for doing nothing. And we will see this in the last verses of this section. “the gospel is not something we achieve, but something we receive”.
- James encourages his readers to be quick to hear.
- Ask this of yourself: Are you quick to hear? Do you really listen to people, or do you ignore what others have to say? When you are around people, are you the first person to talk or the last?
- Being a good listener does two things: help us to learn, and show people that we care about them.
- Being quick to hear means we listen before we speak. Being quick to hear takes humility. We need to understand that we can always be learning.
- I realized this in high school. I worked so hard to be good at sports, but I knew I would never be the best. I worked hard to get good grades, but was never the smartest. I started lifting weights in college, but I would never be the strongest guy in the gym. I don’t say that to be crushing your dream, but so that we realize that we always have something to learn from others.
- The moment we think we know everything and have nothing more to learn is the moment where we need to check our pride. We should be humble, always willing to listen and learn.
- Listening also shows people you care about them. Looking someone in the eye and actually listen to what they have to say goes a long way. For example, if you’re having a conversation with someone who’s pouring out their feeling to you and your looking around, checking your phone, what does that show the person who’s spilling their guts out to you? Listen intentionally; it shows them that you care.
- When we actually listen to people, we get to know them better. Listening deepens relationships and allows for good conversation.
- If you are sharing the gospel with a friend at school, let them talk, listen to what they are thinking or believing, listen for the holes they are trying to fill with something other than Jesus.
- Maybe your brother or sister takes something of yours, and you blow up on them or fight with them before even hearing an explanation.
- Good listeners are good friends, and we all want to be a good friend.
- James also says we should be slow to speak. So the opposite of being quick to hear is being slow to speak.
- It is hard to be a good listener, but it is really easy to talk. Everyone loves talking. We all have something to say about almost everything.
- Something we need to understand about speaking: Words are powerful. Words have the power to create, destroy, encourage, hurt, confuse, and empower.
- With words we can show love, hate, anger, joy, excitement, depression, sadness. We can use our words to build people up or tear people down.
- With this much power, we should be very careful about the words we say. If we are quick to speak at any opportunity we get, we will most likely say something that doesn’t build up or encourage, but rather tears down or confuses.
- Someone told me once that the best public speakers say their words intentionally. They thoroughly think through what they say and how they are going to say it, because they know their words have power.
- Jesus was quick to hear and slow to speak, and we are trying to look like him. Jesus listened to peoples complaints and questions and stories, and he spoke life and truth into their lives. Jesus’ words were the most powerful and he did so with intention.
20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
- The next thing James says is to be slow to anger, because the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God
- I know I had some angry moments. I grew up on a farm and we were constantly working on machines. One time I got injured when screwing a bolt and I was so angry.
- We know we get angry, and whether we say that it is righteous anger or not, James is saying that our anger does not produce the righteousness of God. So what is the righteousness of God?
- Righteousness is making morally right decisions, acting justly, doing the right thing. God’s righteousness is perfect, he is completely righteous. In fact justice and righteousness flows out of God’s character. Morality and what is ultimately right and wrong in the world comes from God.
- Our anger does not produce this righteousness, because our anger develops quickly.
- James doesn’t say not to get angry, but to be slow to anger. God is described as being slow to anger, so we should be like God in this.
- Being slow to anger takes patience. This happens when you are quick to hear and slow to speak. Give people the benefit of the doubt, hear them out, love others like Jesus did. Quick and abrupt anger comes from a sinful heart, but anger that develops slowly will often be solved before it has to come out.
21 Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
- Put away the filthiness and wickedness that sin produces. Our words and our actions determine what’s in our heart. If we’re slow to listen and quick to speak. If we say things unintentionally, don’t listen to people, it shows what’s in our heart. It indicates our heart is full of filthiness and wickedness. Put that away.
- Put away the anger that so quickly boils up inside of us.
- We should put away these desires of the flesh and replace it with godly desires, the desires of the spirit.
- James says to put these away and receive the implanted word in meekness. The implanted word is the gospel. Meekness is like gentleness or humility. We are to receive the gospel in meekness.
- We talked about humility a few weeks ago, it is the first step in receiving the gospel. We have to humble ourselves and realize our desperate need for the gospel, before we can accept it. Humility means realizing we cannot do this on our own.
- We cannot get rid of filthiness and wickedness on our own, we need God to do it for us.
- James says to receive the implanted word. He doesn’t say go get it, go work for it, achieve it for yourself, he says to receive it. The gospel isn’t something we do for God, it’s something God does for us. All we have to do is be meek, humble, and receive the gift of grace that God so freely offers.
- This implanted word, the gospel, the fact that Jesus came and lived among us, died on the cross for our sins, rose again from the grave, and now sits at the right hand of the father. The gospel that says we now have the holy spirit living inside of us, God’s presence is within us, dwelling with us.
- The gospel gives us a God and a king that we so desperately need. We cannot live life in a purposeful and fulfilling way on our own. We need God and we need the gospel.
- When we humble ourselves and receive the gospel, it becomes so much easier to listen more, talk less, and control our anger. We become more like Christ, caring for and loving people in the way they need to be cared for and loved.