Yesterday Linda and I were talking about the rest of the day and what we needed to do. I asked her what time the Storm Chaser presentation would start this evening. Her response was, “I just told you not more than 10 minutes ago that it was 7 PM!”
1. How can you tell if someone is really listening to you? (A good listener is quiet and focused, not distracted by surroundings or their own thoughts.)
James encouraged believers to listen carefully to God and respond by acting on what God has revealed.
In the day James wrote his letter it took literally months sometime for it to reach its destination.
2. What is the time frame today we expect a communication to arrive at its intended destination? (Seconds, or perhaps minutes!)
3. How do we respond if correspondence isn’t answered within minutes?
4. How does the source of the message impact your response speed?
Today’s discussion from James will cover Genuine Faith!
As we have already seen in our study of James, this short letter is full of commands. And the first command we will study in this session is very practical but also very difficult.
Heeding! Read James 1:19-21
1. What three qualities will increase our ability to hear? (Quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger.)
I’m sure you have heard the saying “God gave us two ears and one mouth, and we should use them in proportions.” But so often, the angrier we get, the less we listen. James warned us that human anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness. If someone thinks we are ignorant, don’t open your mouth and prove it!
Read Proverbs 29:22 and Eph. 4:26.
James did not say never get angry but be “slow to anger.” The anger Paul talked about in Ephesians would not stir up conflict or increase rebellion, since that would be sinful. (Even Jesus got angry!)
2. Which is easier—being quick to listen, slow to speak, or slow to anger?
3. Which is the most difficult? (Difficult, stressful times often make us anxious and more likely to lash out in anger. We may seek immediate answers without truly taking time to listen.)
There is a difference between quickly losing our temper and the slow and righteous anger of God, which is directed toward sin.
4. What commands did James give in verses 20-21? (“Rid yourself of all moral filth and evil. Humbly receive the implanted word.”)
The idea here is that the seed is planted and we must allow it to grow in us and produce righteous fruit!
5. How do we help that seed to grow in us? (“Water” it daily with the “Living Water” from the Word of God!)
James instructed his audience to be quick to listen. But that doesn’t mean we should only listen. In the next passage, he will emphasize the importance of acting on what we hear.
Doing! Read James 1:22-25
1. What command do we hear James give in these verses? (Be doers of the Word!)
Someone who only listens to the Word without doing anything about it is like a college student who audits a course but doesn’t receive any credit for it. But even worse, according to verse 22, they are deceiving themselves, which would be like a college student who expected to get credit for a course she didn’t do any work for.
2. Can anyone think of another analogy that illustrates James’s point?
James gave another vivid word picture for this same concept in verses 23-24.
3. What are you looking for when you look at yourself in the mirror?
4. What might be some of the reasons people would give for not doing anything about what they saw in a mirror? (That’s what happens when you get old—I’m only human!)
5. How does looking in a mirror parallel the reasons why we look into the Word of God? (Similarly, Scripture reveals our flaws, but it can also encourage us in knowing that we are growing to look more like Christ.)
6. Why do we sometimes fail to act on the convictions we receive from studying God’s Word? (When this happens, we deceive ourselves. We may think no action is necessary or at least not from us. Maybe we don’t believe we can make a difference or don’t have the power to change.)
In verse 25, James wasn’t just speaking of future blessings in heaven. He said we will be blessed in what we do in response to God’s Word if we are following Him.
Once James established the importance of being doers of the word, he then gave his readers a specific example of how to be a doer.
Loving! Read James 1:26-2:4
1. If you have a different translation of the Bible with you, what different words are used for “useless”?
2. Why would failing to control his tongue make someone’s religious acts useless? (Loose tongues—gossip, angry speech, filthy talk, criticism and such—indicate a heart that has not been changed by the Holy Spirit.)
3. Why do you think the care for orphans and widows is such a clear indicator of whether someone has truly responded to the gospel? (Compassionate care of those in need and a desire to keep from being polluted by the world indicates a heart that is following God, because God cares for these less fortunate!)
4. How do we keep from being prejudiced because of race, ethnic origin, social standing, economic status—any dividing factor? Keep our eyes on Jesus and follow His example. It is particularly difficult to visit with guests who come into our worship setting or Bible Study class because we want to visit with our friends. But we must go out of our way to make them feel welcome!)
5. How does expressing love to others regardless of social standing or life situation demonstrate the gospel?
6. How does a person’s failure to show compassion to others demonstrate his or her need for the gospel?
Summarize and Challenge!
1. Which of the commands we read about today—be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger, rid ourselves of moral filth and evil, receive the implanted word, do the word, see yourself and what needs to be changed in God’s Word, look after orphans and widows, don’t be prejudiced—do you find most difficult to keep?
2. What did this passage teach us about responding to Jesus’ work in our lives? (We need to let the Holy Spirit have the freedom to transform our hearts!)
3. What are some ways we can demonstrate care and concern for either orphans or widows or the poor?
Without listening, we will not know what truly pleases God. However, if we listen but then don’t follow through in action, we haven’t truly heard.
4. What are some strategies that have helped you improve in listening or action?
Pray asking God to strengthen our resolve not to merely listen to the Word but to do what it says!