Listening to God and Doing What He Says

James 1:19-20 ESV

“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”

Quick to Hear

We live in a very fast-paced society today in America. Young people, especially, are used to images being quickly flashed in front of their eyes on a regular basis. On social media we have memes which are short little messages or jokes or bits of humor or images intended to be quickly read and/or viewed and responded to which are spread rapidly throughout social media from person to person.

So, being too quick to listen and to respond can be a bad thing if it isn’t God we are listening to and if it is other humans we are listening to. And sometimes being too quick to listen means we didn’t listen very carefully and we might walk away with the wrong impression. For if it is others we are listening to, including memes they write, we need to be examining what we read and hear and not be too quick to just accept it as truth.

So, if we relate this to hearing the word of the Lord, which fits with the context, being quick to hear does not mean that we give a cursory glance at the Scriptures and then we walk away, satisfied that we read the Scriptures for the day. And if someone else is apparently teaching the Scriptures, quick to hear does not mean we readily accept whatever he says as truth without first testing it against the Scriptures to make certain it is indeed truth.

So, what is intended by being “quick” to hear? It means we are ready to listen now and we are not putting it off until later, and it means we are being attentive and we are listening instead of half-heartedly listening and then quickly jumping in and saying what we want to say. For, again, if we are too quick to hear, meaning we aren’t really paying close attention, we can easily misunderstand, and if we speak too quickly we can respond wrongly.

So, “quick” does not mean “quick in and quick out” which means not really paying close attention to what is being said. Sometimes people are too quick because their minds are already made up or they lack respect for other people’s opinions or for the word of God or they really aren’t listening but they are just giving the appearance of listening. And actually it does mean they aren’t really listening, so they aren’t being “quick to hear (listen).”

James 1:21 ESV

“Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.”

Put Them All Away

Now, with regard to the Word of God, again being quick to hear does not mean a quick read and then we are done and then we go on with our lives. It means we are listening attentively to God’s word, and we are not quickly responding with our own thoughts and opinions, and we aren’t responding in anger, which is a response we might give because we don’t like the message we are hearing. For not everyone likes what God’s word teaches.

And this is why it says that the anger of man (humans) does not produce the righteousness of God. Now there is such a thing as righteous anger. God gets angry. Jesus got angry. We can get angry over sin and injustice and over people hating and devouring one another. But then we must not sin in our anger but we must use the anger as a motivator to an appropriate action and response. But we should not get angry with God and his word.

And since, as followers of Jesus, we are to die with Christ to sin and we are to live to God and to his righteousness, then we must put away from our lives all that would be contrary to living holy and righteous lives. So we must put away (reject, cast out) from our lives all filthiness and rampant wickedness, such as immorality, lying, cheating, stealing, adultery, murder, and the like. We must forsake all such sins as these.

And then we are to receive with meekness the implanted word. And this means we listen to the Lord and to his word and we don’t talk back to God or cut him off and then quickly give our own opinions or get angry with him because we don’t like what his word teaches. And if this word is implanted in us it becomes part of us, something that is alive within us that we live by and which gives life to us and which is able to save our souls.

James 1:22-25 ESV

“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.”

Be Doers and Not Hearers Only

And this is really the crux of the whole thing. We need to be good listeners to God and to his word and not just quickly dismiss Scriptures that are not to our liking. And we really need to pay careful attention to everything that we hear in this life so that we don’t quickly adopt messages which have a sense of being good but which are not good. And this is why we need to test everything in prayer and against the Word of God in context.

But we are not supposed to just be hearers of the word but we are to be doers of the word. Now the Bible, as a whole, is the word of God, but not all of it applies specifically to us as Christians today. For example, we are not under the Old Covenant God had with the nation of Israel who were then his people. So we don’t have to obey all the old ceremonial, liturgical, sacrificial and purification laws that they were required to obey.

But we are still under God’s moral laws. We didn’t become lawless by believing in Jesus. We still have to obey the commands of God (New Covenant), for to love God is to obey him. And God’s grace, which brings us salvation, instructs us to say “No!” to ungodliness and fleshly lusts and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives while we wait for his return. We still must die with Christ to sin and walk in obedience to his commands.

For the whole purpose of Jesus dying on that cross was to deliver us out of our slavery (addiction) to sin so we would now be slaves of God and of his righteousness. So we need to be doers of our Lord’s instructions to us which were given to us by Jesus and by the writers of the New Testament, much of which parallels with the teachings of the Old Testament with regard to sin and to righteousness.

So, we are not to be quick to hear in the sense of just reading the Scriptures then closing the book and then just walking away and forgetting what the Lord showed us. For that is not really hearing anyway. But we are to listen attentively to the word and what it teaches us Christians and then we are to be doing what it says in practice in our daily lives. For this is why Jesus died that we might forsake our sins and now walk in his ways.

Thus, the “perfect law” is the gospel of Jesus Christ which is the law of liberty because if we believe it then we are liberated from our slavery to sin and we are empowered of God to live righteously. And this is what the gospel is all about. We die with Christ to sin so we can live to Christ and to his righteousness in obedience to his commands (his word). And then one day Jesus will return and he will take us to be with him forever provided that we continued in him and in his word steadfast until the very end.

He Gives Purpose

An Original Work / June 9, 2012

“Listen to Me when I’m calling to you.
Obey freely My word.
Follow Me in all of My ways.
Do all that I say.
Hear Me gently whisper to you
My will for your life and future.
Give all of your life and heart to
Follow Me always.”

Repent of your sins and worship Jesus.
He’s your Lord and Master.
He died for your sins so you could
Live with Him today.
He has a plan for your life and
He gives purpose and direction.
He gives meaning to your life,
So follow Him today.

“I love you so much I gave My life for
You to walk in My ways,
Living for Me each day as you
Bow to Me and pray.
Witness for Me of your love for Me and
Of My grace and mercy,
How I died to save you of your
Sins now and always.”

[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; Tit 2:11-14; Jas 1:21-25; Rom 12:1-2; Eph 2:8-10; Php 2:12-13; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-10; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; Heb 10:26-27; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Matt 7:21-23; Ac 26:18; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]

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