September 20, 2008

Worthless? That seems harsh.

James is clear and concise. He says that speaking should be followed by listening. We should be quick to listen and slow to speak. And that our hearing should be followed by doing. “Do not merely listen to the Word and so deceive yourselves.” That deception is a like a pride that we have in what we have heard. We may agree. We may feel emotional even. But if we do nothing about it, then we have been deceived by those emotions. We have been fooled into forgetting our experience.

However, there is a blessing for the one who remembers what he has heard and continues to act upon the freedom in Christ. (James 1:25)

Next, James takes on religion. Church can play a key role in our lives. Social development. Fellowship with other Christians. A place to learn and grow. Peaceful refuge during times of crisis. But why was James so extreme to say that our out of control mouth could render our religion worthless? Can it cancel out all of the choir practice and Sunday School? “Hey, I volunteer in the nursery.” “I used my vacation time to work a week at VBS. “ Those are real sacrifices. They are acts of service to God's people.

That’s the whole idea. This entire passage is taking to task that idea of hearers who are not doers. We can be busy doing religious things, but we are expected to also being doing Godly things- taking on His character. Be not deceived. James has clearly called it on this.

We will explore the power of words again in Chapter 3. His emphasis on this topic (and my own struggle over this area) remind me of how much this matters to God. God expects, even requires, me to get my words under control before I will be the grown up that I think I should be by now.

I have been growing in the Lord my whole life. I have been gobbling up God’s Word with more hunger for the past 10 years. I know that this will come up again if I do not get the rudder in the hands of a skilled captain, so that I can face the strongest winds of my life. (James 3)

James 1:26-27: If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue he deceives himself, this man's religion is worthless.
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.

Ooh- I need to read this passage again.

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