Proverbs of the New Testament – pt.3

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Good and joyful day today to all Christian brothers and sisters on this the day the Lord has made. Pull up a chair, pour yourself a cup of coffee, or tea, or milk, or whatever is your favorite, we’re about to slice a piece of the Bread of Life, the Word of God. And today’s slice comes from:

James 1:19-27 ~Hearing and Doing the Word
19 My dear brothers and sisters, be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. 20 Your anger can never make things right in God’s sight. 21 So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the message God has planted in your hearts, for it is strong enough to save your souls. 22 And remember, it is a message to obey, not just to listen to. If you don’t obey, you are only fooling yourself. 23 For if you just listen and don’t obey, it is like looking at your face in a mirror but doing nothing to improve your appearance. 24 You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. 25 But if you keep looking steadily into God’s perfect law – the law that sets you free – and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it . 26 If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are just fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless. 27 Pure and lasting religion in the sight of God our Father means that we must care for orphans and widows in their troubles, and refuse to let the world corrupt us.

Today, we continue in our series on the epistle of James by examining verses 19-27 of the first chapter.
The first thing we need to obtain from James is exactly what are we supposed to know? That is, what is already assumed. We know that James is speaking to a group of believers of whom he is fond because he writes, “My dear brothers . . .”
However, James is a wise veteran of life. He knows the battle that takes place between the flesh and the spirit. He shares the ”but” word. Whenever I hear a conversation and someone says, “but” I know the story is not over. James has more to say. He is trying to communicate to the Christian community that there is more work to be done. He is saying; your understanding of the Christian faith and the word and wisdom of God is not exactly complete. It is so easy to think that we have it all wrapped up—that we do not need to listen and learn any more. Some people come to church, and if God does not speak in 55 minutes, they lose all their marbles.

They come making lists of all the things they are going to do once they leave church; how ever, the church’s message never lives inside of them.
You see, in verse 18 we learn that the word of God is planted in us to give us our new birth. However, once that word is planted—we must grow. The seed that has been planted must bring forth fruit. James knew that a person’s conversion experience does not produce instant sainthood.

I’m reminded of a story about a small, rural, traditional, almost perfect Roman Catholic community. They observed all the laws. They ate only fish on Fridays. But one day, a Methodist moved to town. Everything went well until the townsfolk realized he loved to barbecue steaks on Fridays.
He was a nice enough man, but the Friday menu violated Catholic doctrine. What to do? The townspeople decided to convert him; that made the most sense. In time, their plan worked. Although it was summer, the church was Easter filled, with people standing in the back of the sanctuary. At the moment when he joined the Catholic church. The priest looked at this former Methodist and said, “You were born a Methodist. You were raised a Methodist. Now you are a Catholic!” The church erupted in applause. Everyone was happy; until the next Friday evening, when the neighbors again smelled the aroma of barbecued steaks. They couldn’t believe their noses. They got the priest and together they walked up to the former Methodist’s fence. He was looking down at the steak on the grill and said, so that all could hear, “You were born a steer. You were raised a steer. Now you are a fish!”

Well, James knew that it was not quite that easy. The only way that a Christian could grow was stated in verse 19. dear brothers and sisters, be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. James knew that every church had a “jawbone,” but he also knew that great talkers are rarely good listeners, and listening is crucial to spiritual growth. James tests the truth of our testimony by asking: Are you listening to God first?

Once, a young man came to the philosopher Socrates to be instructed in oratory. The moment the young man was introduced, he began to talk in an incessant-stream-of-words- and-thoughts. This went on for some time. Socrates finally silenced the man by putting his hand over his mouth. “Young man,” he said, “I will have to charge you a double fee.”      “A double fee, why is that?” Socrates replied, “Because I will have to teach you two sciences. First’ the science of holding your tongue. And then the science of using it correctly.”
By the way, do you know which organ of the body requires the most energy? The first two obvious guesses might be the heart or brain. Actually, though, it’s the inner ear which demands the most bodily energy. Attentive listening can be a draining experience, so God made sure the ears got all of the necessary power to carry out this important task.

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