HOW DO WE HANDLE THE WORD OF GOD
Have you ever said those words “Think before you speak”? If so WHEN? Before or after the foot is inserts into your mouth? I can’t count the number of times that I've put myself into a situation where I've inserted my own foot [sometimes both]! Whether it’s with my wife, my children, my friends, at work....even people in the church. We [myself] easily fail in this area of life….because the natural man or woman wants to express what’s on their mind not thinking of others or the cost! As children of God we are to think before we speak at all times that for example what Paul told the church “Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” Col 4:5-6. In I Peter 3:15-16 it says “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.” James said “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless. (v26). This is only possible when we think before we speak! And the same rule applies when it comes to handling the word of God. Why? Because it bares the fruit of righteousness found in Christ. James says in (v21) God’s word is “engrafted” which means “the implanted word” God plants His word into our regenerate hearts.....this is where we get the parable of the Sower! Jesus described the: Hard heart, Shallow heart, Crowded heart, Fruitful heart. See one of the most important tests of true salvation is your fruit! [This means a changed life] As yourself this question! Is my life different today than it was yesterday, last week, last month, or last year? J C Ryle said “The Christianity which is from above will always be known by its fruits. It will produce in the person who has it repentance, faith, hope, love, humility, spirituality, kindness, self-denial, unselfishness, forgiving spirit, moderation, truthfulness, hospitality, and patience. The degree in which these various graces appear may vary in different believers. The germ and seeds of them will be found in all who are the children of God. By their fruits they will be known. Is this your faith? If not, you should doubt whether it is authentic.” Examine your life as it lines up with scripture. THINK ABOUT..........
A MARK OF GENUINE FRUIT IS NEVER ASHAMED OF THE NAME HE OR SHE HAS BEEN GIVEN IN CHRIST......Rom 1:16 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”
A MARK OF GENUINE FRUIT WILL GROW IN HOLY LIVING.......Rom 6:22 “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.”
A MARK OF GENUINE FRUIT WILL BE BUILDING SPIRITUAL CHARACTER......Gal 5;22-24 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”
A MARK OF GENUINE FRUIT WILL ALWAYS PRAISE THE LORD.......Heb 13:15 “Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.”
How long would it take for you to look at an apple tree to see if it has bad fruit on it? And, how long would it take for you to look at an apple tree to see if it has good fruit on it? Answer: Instantly. Remember what Jesus said in the gospel of John 5:1-5 "I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. A person can only bear fruit under the supervision of Christ which is found in the gospel and His salvation and sanctifying grace. The evidence of your salvation is that you continue to grow and walk in His righteousness! But understand! This is only possible through the seeds of God’s word being planted in your life [into your heart]. HERE ARE THREE AREAS IN WHICH THE SEEDS OF GOD’S WORD HELP US GROW ACCORDING TO JAMES’S LETTER!
SWIFT TO HEAR
This is a statement could basically summarize the foundation of the Christian faith! [Religion]. If the bible teaches that “faith comes by hearing” then this is a vital piece of information for the Christian to bear fruit. What James is telling us is that we can endure and grow through the reading and applying the word to our lives. We should be “quick” [ready, excited, eager] to hear what God is telling us through the written word. Again I go back to (v18) “he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.” He brought us forth by the super-natural power of His word. Quick to hear what God is saying to us……. like a mother who is always quick to hear her baby make the smallest cry. Think about the Berean’s in the book of Acts! Acts 17:11 said “Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” Not only did they have a discerning heart to test all things but they had a readiness, excitement to hear the word so that they could grow deeper in love with Christ. Warren Weirsbe gave a wonderful example of what it means to be swift to hear! “King David was hiding from the Philistines who were in possession of Bethlehem, He yearned for a drink of cool water from the well in Bethlehem….a well he often visited in his boyhood and youth. He did not issue an order to his men; he simply said this to himself [2 Sam 23;15]. Three of his mighty men heard their kings sigh for the water, and they risked their lives to secure the water and bring it to him. They were “swift to hear” James is telling us that we need to be ready [quick] to hear our Masters voice……even if that means giving up everything or losing our life for the sake of the gospel as these believers were doing.
SLOW TO SPEAK
There is a good reason why God gave us two ears and only one mouth! Because that one mouth gets us into enough trouble as it is. The two ears attached to the side our head should give us a clue to the fact that God desires us to hear more than we are to speak. A prime example of this is Martha and Mary. Martha was quick to express her displeasure for her sister’s lack of participation. Listening is a vital part in growing! From the time you’re toddler, until the time you’re elderly and frail.
Prov 13:3 “Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.”
Prov 18:13 “If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.”
Prov 18:21 “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.”
When it comes to the word of God we must be silent on the inside as well as on the outside. Basically talk little, not hurried, acting with reflection, thinking before you speak. We must reflect on the word first and go to the Lord with or troubles
SLOW TO WRATH [OR ANGER]
This is where we [all] need to precede with caution! Anger is a natural emotion that usually ends in an instant response when triggered! Examples: David when he was raged by the refusal of food from Nabal [1 Sam 25]. Peter when he cut the ear off of the servant that came to arrest Jesus in the garden. [Matt 26] Wrath (means) hot anger, passion, a violent passion of the mind, is the display of an enraged sinful nature. We are forbidden to allow anger to display itself in our lives; we must flee from all types of wrath. But as Paul said! “Let love be genuine. Abhor (detest) what is evil; hold fast to what is good.” Rom 12:9. The anger that James is talking about keeping in the context of this letter is a anger towards God’s truth when it confronts sin or conflicts with a cherished personal belief or standard of behaviour. This anger is referring to a hostile person to scriptural truth when it does not correspond t0 one’s own convictions. As John MacArthur explains it “People desired to have their own opinions confirmed, their own ways approved, their own likes and dislikes accepted by others.”This was happening in the church! And more so today with the health and wealth camps to the Emerging / seeker Sensitive s0-churches. Sadly from a pastor’s perspective! Paul warned Timothy of this in his last letter…….2 Tim 4:3-4 “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”James said it was even happening among the believers here in this letter He wrote in 4:1 “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?” A prime example of this was a man named Thomas Jefferson who was angry because the bible didn't co-inside with what he held to be true…meaning the word according to Thomas Jefferson.
The word of God is everything to us…….for without it we would be lost like so many people around the globe today. The word of God is to our life line…our communication with the Creator of the Universe. Is this so in your life? Let’s do a personal inventory of our Christian Lives:
- Does this book you hold in your hands bring you Joy?
- Is it your desire and passion to know Him more intimately?
- Does His word bring you encouragement in your darkest hour, as you face the trials of today?
- Do you persistently go to Him and wait on Him before you act?
- Does anger get the victory, or do you display self-control and give your trials to the Lord?
As Solomon said “the way of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, but He loves him who pursues righteousness” Prov 15:9
- We need to pursue the Word of God.
- We need to be walking in the truth of His word.
- We need to be separate from this world and pursue His righteousness.
- We need to pursue the Lord with open ears…..quiet mouths and gentle obedience.
Genuine Christians pursue righteousness because of the implanted word, which is well pleasing in the sight of God because they bear fruit of Christ righteousness. As Kay Arthur says “Snuggle in God's arms. When you are hurting, when you feel lonely, left out. let Him cradle you, comfort you, reassure you of His all-sufficient power and love.” Where and only where, we can gain victory in our trials and bare genuine fruit of Christ righteousness; through His love letter that makes the Christian excited, mindful and humble as He leads us home. THE BIBLE! A perfect and good gift from the Father of lights [the Creator and sustainer of our lives]. SDG