James gets up close and personal as he addresses the great divide that occurs in the life of a Christian between what a person hears and what a person does. I must admit as a Pastor/Teacher this subject is always on my mind. How much of the content presented week after week is actually getting through? How much of a difference is it making in the lives of the listeners?
In our passage (1:19-27) James gives us Five Timeless Marks of a Receptive Heart:
1. Hear what God has said. Jesus was constantly rebuking the Pharisees for not listening, “have you not heard?” It’s possible to have good hearing, but to be hard of listening! I’m afraid that Satan has a way of dulling our hearing and distracting our minds. This is having an increasingly significant impact on Christianity. We are a generation of people whose cry is, “Lord, speak to me, You have 30 seconds!”
2. Slow to Speak. God has given us two ears and one mouth; two avenues for listening and one for speaking. When we don’t actively listen to what others say we can easily jump to conclusions, judge, and pronounce a verdict on everything and everyone.
3. A Calm Teachable Spirit. You don’t really hear when you’re angry. Isn’t it true that Sunday morning can often be some of the most stress-filled times of the week? By the time we get to church, our minds are not where they should be to receive God’s word. What’s the solution? Prepare for Sunday all week long. Understand that if Satan can’t stop you from being in church he will attempt to stop you from getting anything out of it! Get
4. A Clean Heart (vs. 21) James completes his thoughts with a two-part positive/negative command in receiving God’s Word. He tells his readers to remove the “filthiness.” This word in Greek actually indicates dirt in the ear that plugs up the sound. The idea is that in order for us to receive truth, we must remove the junk that is plugging up our hearing. Perhaps there needs to be a spiritual house cleaning. This involves not only the filthiness, but the motives, and the attitudes below the surface.
5. A Humble Attitude (vs. 21). In order to receive God’s Word, we need to let go of our pride, anger, and stain of the word. When we do that we become teachable. We realize that Christianity is not about what we get out of it, but what glorifies God.
How about YOU? Are you prepared to receive the truth? Is it making a difference in tangible, observable ways in your everyday life? James gives us a great, logical progression of commands that will make an immediate difference as we become effectual doers. Press On,