by Pastor David
The book of James is right around the corner for us as a church family. Full of almost proverbial wisdom, James hits us close to home on a variety of practical issues. Before we get to it, though, I thought it would be good to consider what James 1:19-25 should teach us about how we hear this next sermon series. We do a lot of listening. It’s an integral part of our Christian lives to listen to sermons, as well as to other Christians speaking into our lives personally. So it’s also a constant challenge to actually hear the way God intends us too. In this crucial discipline of hearing, God has not left us without instruction.
James begins with an emphatic attention-getter to his beloved brothers: “Know this.” Here are some commands we need to keep in mind when it comes to hearing. First, every single one of us should be quick to hear. We should all have a ready eagerness every time we get a chance to hear God’s Word. If it were a race, we should be quickest to hear instead of to speak. That’s the second attitude James commands--slow to speak. We should not be in a rush to speak and share God’s Word, but rather prioritize hearing. In the Church, there can be an overly high estimation of the teacher, when in reality James puts the value on listening. The final attitude James commands is slowness to anger. When we don’t understand God’s Word or we don’t like what it says, we must be careful to guard against a frustrated and reactionary sense of anger.
Because our anger could never work God’s righteousness, James further tells us to hear by putting away sin and receiving the implanted word with meekness. Our sin will actively muffle our ability to hear. So if we’re going to be good hearers, we must be holy. There should be a welcome mat at the door of our hearts for the Word. So here are some questions to analyze how well you are hearing.
How do you get ready to receive the Word before you read it in private or hear it in public?
What is the difference between a Berean and a critic? Have you possibly confused slow to hear and quick to speak and quick to anger attitudes as “more noble”? How can you work harder to receive the Word? Does your Saturday night and Sunday morning routine help or hurt your listening on Sunday?
One commentator wrote, “Listening is the art of closing one’s mouth and opening one’s ears and heart.” May God give us grace to hear James, like all of His Word, biblically.