Have you ever said these words to yourself? “Think before you speak” If so! When was the last time you stop yourself with that simple truth? Was it before or after the foot is inserts into the mouth? I can’t count the number of times that I’ve put myself into a situation where I insert my own foot!
Whether it’s with my wife.
Whether it’s with my children.
Whether it’s with friends or strangers.
Whether it’s with people I work with.
Whether it’s with people at church.
We, I myself, fail in this area of life from time to time….Reason being the natural man or woman wants to express what’s on their mind…. without thinking of others or the cost! As children of God we are to think before we speak at all times. For example: Col 4:5-6 says “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.”
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! We have that same responsibility 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” this is where we get the parable of the Sower!
Jesus described the:
Hard heart….Matt 13:18-19 “When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path.”
Shallow heart……..Matt 13:20-21 “As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away.”
Crowded heart……Matt 13:22 “As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.”
Fruitful heart………..Matt 13:23 “As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty."
See one of the most important tests of true salvation is your fruit! [This means a changed life]. There is only one good soil! And it bares 100, another 60, and another 30. Continue growth by His grace through His written word by God grafting His word into our hearts. Ask yourself! 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.”
Loved ones….examine your life as it lines up with scripture….the implanted word that sanctifies your soul for eternity. As Jeremiah said Jer 31:31 "…..For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” Jer 31:31-33
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.”
ASK YOURSELF! How long would it take for you to look at an apple tree to see if it has bad fruit on it? 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……..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 bares 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
Basically James is saying is “Hurry up and Listen” This is a statement could basically summarize the foundation of the Christian faith! If the bible teaches that “faith comes by hearing” then this is a vital piece of information for the Christian to bear fruit. We are to humbly approach the Word, not coming with our defences up, which leads to anger and resistance to God and His word. As David Platt said “Don’t we often come to God’s Word talking and not listening?” Think about this! Don’t we at times come to God’s word looking to justify ourselves? We’re like people in an argument who are not listening to the other person, because we are too busy trying to think of what we are going to say next. Don’t we approach God’s word with the attitude thinking “Here what I want it to say?” We think we know what’s best for us and everyone around us and ignore what God says. Don’t we have a tendency to think the culture should dictate our homes, schools, businesses and the churches? For this reason! We have our fingers in our ears and we are a people who are not swift to hear. We should be “quick” [ready, excited, eager] to hear what God is telling us through the written word. Again I go back to (v18) “Of His own will 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 will through the gospel and the Word.. James is emphasizing that the sovereign will of God is the source of this new life we live. As children of God we are to be 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 of God, 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”
The same principle applies to you and me! 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.
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. When Mary chose to listen, rather than go overboard preparing like her sister. See, listening is a vital part of growing! From the time you’re toddler, until the time you’re elderly and frail. The bible says in….. 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, just as we are to be 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: Jonah when God removed his shade as he wanted God to pour His wrath on the Ninevites. (Jonah 4). David when he was raged by the refusal of food from Nabal because his pride was hurt. (1 Sam 25). Peter impulsiveness 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 bad anger to display itself in our lives; we must flee from all types of wrathful passions and desires. 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 our sin or conflicts. This anger is referring to a hostile person to scriptural truth when it does not correspond or agree to 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 today! Especially with the health and wealth camps, the Narcissistic emotional driven, to the Emerging / seeker Sensitive so-churches.
I call them “Me monster”
We have seen this in the life of King David in 2 Sam 12:2-6 A man named Nathan came to speak to David and told him a story about two men. “The rich man had very many flocks and herds, but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. And he brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children. It used to eat of his morsel and drink from his cup and lie in his arms, and it was like a daughter to him. Now there came a traveler to the rich man, and he was unwilling to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the guest who had come to him, but he took the poor man's lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him." Then David's anger was greatly kindled against the man, and he said to Nathan, "As the LORD lives, the man who has done this deserves to die,.”
David missed the point because as Nathan said to David "You are the man!” (v6). Choosing not listen and quick to answer which leads to destruction. Many approach the word of God the same way. Paul warned Timothy of this in his last letter. “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.” 2 Tim 4:3-4. James said it was happening among the believers here in this letter “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?” James 4:1
Thomas Jefferson was a prime example of someone who was angry with God’s word. Why? 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 our life, our communication with the Creator of the Universe. Is this so in your life? I pray and hope so!
To help! Let’s do a personal inventory how we approach the Word of God
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 and victories to the Lord?
I ask this because Solomon said this “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 and walk in the truth of His word. We need to be hunting His righteousness. And it needs to be done with open ears…..quiet mouths… and gentle obedience. Gospel saturated, born again children must pursue righteousness, which is well pleasing in the sight of God, because it will always produce fruit of Christ righteousness. May this never be said of us that “We are not quick to hear and slow to speak but loathe to listen and anxious to be heard.” This book you possess makes the Christian excited, mindful and humble as He leads us home into His glory and His glorious presence. God’s word deeply rooted produces listening ears, a tamed tongue and a gentle heart of God’s righteousness.