Series on James Part 2 Hearing and Doing 9/28/15



Text: James 1:19-27

Hearing and Doing the Word

This week we read a section from the epistle that is titled “Listening and Doing”.  As we look at these verses, it seems like James is writing a random collection of brief instructions. But since the Holy Spirit inspired James to put this all in these verses, they are not just random instructions, they fit together and apply to our lives in a very meaningful way. What ties this all together is what James calls the Word. The Word of God (see verse 18). And then five times James goes on to references the Word and the Law. So what he is saying in essence is that we need to listen to the Word of God, listen carefully, let it inhabit our lives and then in the second portion of the text, James says now, go and do what it say.

Looking briefly at these two aspects of listening or receiving and then doing.

James mentions three aspects of receiving the Word.

Firstly he says; we must submit ourselves to the Word, “be quick to listen”. The Word of God is our guide, it is the living Word of God to us. If our reading of the Bible is simply a lifeless formality of getting through a chapter or two everyday but we don’t allow the Holy Spirit to speak to us through it, we are wasting our time. This is what James means to submit to the Word, to listen and allow the Word of God to guide us and be our primary source of direction, by the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit.

The second point that James makes is that as we receive the Word, we must do so with purity (verse 21). What he is saying here is that before we can take in the word and allow it to produce fruit in our lives, we need to deal with sin. Holiness is something we need to strive for (see Romans 13:12).

Thirdly he says in verse 21, that we must receive the word in humility. One of the reasons people don’t want to hear the word of God is because they have it all figured out. They have all the answers to life and don’t need God telling them what to do. But in order to receive the Word of God, we need to come humbly, acknowledging our dependence on the Jesus, the Word of God in the flesh. He alone can save us.

But receiving the Word is only one part of it, we need to put it into practice. We need to become doers of the Word as James says in verse 22, and in verse 25, we see that the person who looks intently at the Law – the law that gives freedom, is the one who will be blessed in what they do. What James is talking about here is the law that Jesus fulfilled (see Matthew 5:17).  Notice James doesn’t say, he will be blessed by simply reading the Word. No, he is blessed by meditating or intently reading the Word and then doing.  If you look intently on the word of God, it is going to change the way in which you live. The word of God will reflect in your life, in the way you speak, think and act.

But truly hearing the Word of God will also flow over into the way in which you care for others (1 John 3:10). This leads us to verse 27, and this is the culmination of all James is talking about in this portion. The NASB translates verse 27 as; “Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”

But James is saying here that Pure Religion, right religion that is acceptable to God is works coupled with a relationship with almighty God. We are listening for His voice, and then being obedient to what he says. We need to be reminded that everything we do, is in the presence of God, our speech, our thoughts, our actions our response to the needy, all of this is in the presence of God.

As I looked at the call to care for widows and orphans in this verse, I wondered how this fits into our context in Kansas City in 2015. Well it is obvious that in our church and community we have a number of widows and widowers. People who are lonely and possibly homebound. How are we caring for the widows and widowers in our community? Theirs is more often than not an emotional and compassionate need as they wrestle with daily loneliness. As a church we do a reasonable job of caring for the elderly in our congregation.  But then I starting thinking about another group of people in our community. The single moms and the children who are growing up not knowing their fathers. These too are modern day widows and orphans. Many of these single moms are struggling to make ends meet. Many are not getting any form of child support and they are trying to work and sometimes study at the same time to make a better life for their children. It occurred to me that there are three basic needs for a single mom; Work, Housing and Childcare. Without work they cannot pay rent. Without childcare they cannot work. It is a vicious cycle. And then you have the children, who have no fathers, and moms who are so busy trying to make ends meet that they are unable to provide the emotional and spiritual training that a young child needs.

How are we doing as a church family in this sphere? This is a new and very real part of our society and community. We cannot simply ignore it and hope that they will make it. No I believe we can make a difference as God leads us, to save families and children for the Glory of God. Because that should be our only motivation.