James is talking about godliness but he used a different word which usually refers the religious actions. And by using this word, he was trying to make his point clear that our religious life is not separated from our daily life. In this sense, he describes godliness in three categories-how to speak, how to treat others, and how to act in the world.
Our godliness is not only our warm feelings about God when we are in the church. Rather, it should determine how we live in our daily life. If our word, comes from our hearts, is not tamed, our religious actions-no matter how much we are devoted- are worthless (v.26). And if we are religious, it will be shown through how we treat our neighbors, especially the weak-who cannot survive without others' help. And this requires us to sacrifice what we have-time, money, and emotions. Moreover, we are to keep ourselves from the stained world because this world we are living in is ungodly. According to Jesus' prayer in John 17, we are sent to the world so we are in the world, yet we are not of the world.
Then how can we live a godly life? The answer is the word. James 1:22, we need to receive the word with meekness. It means that we should put down everything we have in front of the word of God and to examine ourselves through the words. We tend to examine the words and modulate them in order not to change ourselves. However, we are the one who needs change. If we listen to the words, but not to receive the words with meekness, we are the Pharisees, who only used the words. Then, we can be religious, but we cannot be godly. Jesus prayed for his disciples who were sent to the world. "Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth." (John 17:17) Let's be honest and humble before the words of God, so that the words of God can changes ourselves!
1. Welcome the high school seniors!
2. We will have EM summer Retreat on Aug. 11th-12th.
Be doers of the word is a repeating theme of James. In previous verses James emphasized on hearing and told us that we are to hear the words!! And this week he goes one step further. If we hear the words, we now should do what we hear. It means we should follow the words and have the change. And these changes can be either our action or our knowledge and emotion.
The reason is that making change is the purpose of hearing. If we don't do, then there's no point of hearing. Also, God's words are always true. It's because either God speaks truth, or what God speak becomes true. Therefore, following the words of God is important. If we don't do, we have nothing to do with God.
And James explains this deceit as a mirror. At that time, the mirror was dim, and people saw their image quickly and go away. It is as same as merely listening the words. We listen and do not stay in the words but go our own way. This is not doing but deceiving.
However, those who looks into the perfect law and perseveres, are the ones who keep thinking the words and live out. In Matthew 21, Jesus gives a story of two sons. When their father told them to go to work in vineyard, one said yes and didn't go, while the other said no and later changed his mind and go. Jesus asked a question, 'which of two did the will of the father?' And I will add one more question, 'which of two deceived the father?'
One of the distinct human characteristics is a language. And it is fundamental to the society. Our faith, therefore, is related to it. And James gives a practical guides in our texts, which is be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger. This is not about the speed of our conversation, nor about the skill of it. Instead, it is about our stance (attitude), which can be described as humility. In order for us to be quick to hear and slow to speak and anger, we must admit that our thought - basis of our hearing and speaking - might be wrong. Otherwise, we won't listen, and won't need to slow down before speak.
The reason why we should do it is, first, because we are the servants of Jesus. James as a half brother of Jesus considered himself as a servant (v.1). And he is writing this to his fellow Christians (v.19). Also, we are to do it because it leads us to the righteousness of God, not the anger of man.
How can we be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger? It is possible when we take off what we have inside (filthiness and wickedness) and put on the implanted word with meekness. When God's word come into us, we can listen to it first, before we speak and get angry.
James tells us not to be deceived in the context of our temptation because we have strong tendency to blame God for the cause of our temptation. However, James gives us three reasons that we cannot think God is responsible for our temptation. First is his character (v.17). God is the source of every good and perfect gift. These gifts are for our salvation. Also, God does not change. And it doesn't make sense for immutable God who gives good gifts to tempt us. Second is the will of God (v. 18). God worked not arbitrary, but according to his will, which want to save all who believes. And the purpose of temptation is not to save but to destroy. Therefore, God is not supposed to be the cause of our temptation which is the opposite of his will. And third, God is not tempting us because of what he has done. His work reflects his character and his will. And he gave birth to us (v.18) and became the father of us. And we can surely know that God never tempts his children who brought them through his precious son's blood.