Practical Reflections from James

Some thbook-of-jamesink that when one is done with formal education, one stops learning.

Nothing can be further from the truth. Every day when I study the Bible, I learn new things. Today, I learned many new things from my daily reading I want to share.

In James 1:19-21, the writer moves into hearing and doing the word of God. Reading God’s word is a fine thing, but not obeying it misses the reason why God gave it. God has done man an incredible kindness in giving his word so that we may learn it and obey it. By contrast, God gave his word to Israel, and they basically cast it back into his teeth by disobedience.

As in most of this book, James focused on a very practical idea. He wrote (and this is my translation), “Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to begin speaking and slow into anger. For the anger of man does not continue to practice the righteousness of God. Instead, put away all filthiness and overflowing wickedness and embrace the implanted word which is able to save your souls.”

We must be quick to hear. There’s an old saying that we have all been born with two ears and one mouth. We should, therefore, hear twice as much as we speak. That’s good advice. How many of us have ever regretted not practicing this? How many have said things they regret because they did not keep their ears open and their mouths shut? I know I’ve been guilty of this.

We must be slow to begin speaking. A.T. Robertson wrote the construction of the phrase is the ingressive aorist active infinitive, and gives this idea of being slow to begin speaking.[1] One person told me, “Be sure that before you start talking that your brain is engaged first. How many begin speaking before thinking? How many live to regret not having thought first?

We must be slow into wrath. In other words, we must not rush headlong into anger. Instead, move slowing into wrath. One of the things I’ve learned driving a car and that moving slowly can help one avoid the damages and costly repairs that can come by blasting ahead on an unknown road at high speed.

But, there’s another reason for being slow into wrath. Once there, a person’s anger will make it almost impossible to remember to keep on practicing the things God expects of us. I don’t believe in spirits or demons possessing my mind. I do believe that anger can, and when it does it does not give up until it has damaged those I love or those who are trying to see Christ in me. In fact, it keeps me from continually practicing the righteous God expects from me.

There are practical ideas like this throughout the book of James. I look forward to going back tomorrow and finding more gold from this book. I encourage you to do the same.

[1] “Word Pictures in the New Testament,” by A.T. Robertson, Volume VI, Page 21.

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