“take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry”
I’m going to start this sermon with an apology, which is simply that we had announced I’d announced last week that we’re going to beginning a series this morning on the sermon on the Mount. We’re tremendously excited about it, but decided earlier this week, we wanted to take a little more time to try to get everything together in terms of coordinating services and other things around the themes.
So we’re waiting until the beginning of February, the theme of the series is the upside down life. The life that Jesus presents to us in Matthew five through seven. Is in many ways the antithesis, it is the turning upside down of the perspective of life that a sinful world offers us. And so we’re going to look at that and we’re looking at an excited this morning, we’re going to begin a two-part series on James chapter one, which is where I invite you to turn with me this morning, James chapter one verses 19 to 25.
The focus of this series is just listening to and living out truth. Listening to is what we’re going to be looking at this morning next week, God willing learning to live out that truth. Here’s what we read in James. One 19 to 21. 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. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant, wickedness and receive with meekness, the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. It was one of the most successful advertising campaigns in history, the effectiveness of the television commercials.
Because this company’s CEO, Robert Fullman to take this large brokerage house and build a 29 story executive headquarters in downtown Manhattan. It was this particular campaign that presented and it’s TV commercials scenes like this. You would be in a busy, uh, active dishes, clattering, fancy restaurant.
You could hear the forks and knives. You could hear people talking. And all of a sudden, somebody at one table would turn to their partner and said, well, my broker is eff Hutton and he says, and everything goes, silence. You remember it? Some of you go stone silence. And the idea was, everybody wanted to hear what had to say.
And the marketing voice would then come on at the end when he EF Hutton speaks people, listen, I don’t know where you stand on but I think you’ve got to say the advertising campaign was fantastic. Don Maxwell in his book, 21 irrefutable laws of leadership calls law, number five, the eff Hutton law, and the law is simply saying that if you want to really find out.
The movers and shakers, the power brokers, the, the influencers in a room, you don’t look for the person that is in charge necessarily. You look for the person that when that man or woman speaks, everybody just sort of tilts their heads a little more. They lean over a little more that you realize, even if the individual doesn’t say much, when they talk, everybody is hanging on every word.
He says, that’s the influencer in the room. Now, some of you do that naturally, who are born leaders. You just naturally smell out the power in a room, but his principle, we all recognize
individuals whose voice just carries tremendous significance. What about when God speaks? Are we leaning forward to hear it? Are we, are we saying, this is the voice I need when, when God is speaking, that’s what I need to listen to. When James chapter one, these verses are talking about God speaking, and there, this is how you listen.
And secondly, this is then how you respond and live out what he says. The primary way. He’s going to talk to us in these verses about God’s speaking through his word. It’s why in verses 2020, excuse me, 19 to 25, three times, he talks about the word, the scriptures. It’s what he’s talking about. So what are we to do when God speaks his truth?
Well, let’s look today how we are to listen. And here’s what he says for a number of things we’re going to highlight this morning. First thing is just, and I’m going to do it by way of questions. First of all, who is it that listens to God’s word, who is a God listener? And he associates this passage with the opening statement.
He says, know this my beloved brothers or my dear brothers. He is. He is doing this continually in the book of James, which was the earliest book written in the new Testament. It was written for the believers that had just recently come to know Jesus Christ as savior, and it had associated themselves with him and James, the physical brother, the half brother of Jesus is writing this letter to the, to the Christians at large.
And in it, he is identifying those preeminently. Who are God listeners. And I feel it important just at the beginning of this short sermon this morning to highlight this, that there is an assumption here. If we’re going to talk about really being God listeners, that we have also become God’s children that we have entered, as he says, my brothers.
That we have entered the family of God that we have personally embraced Jesus Christ as savior and Lord, we said yes to Christ in a, in a volitional conscious reality. We saw I need God’s forgiveness, which Jesus Christ came to give. I need Christ as the, as the Lord of my life, which he came to be offering himself to be.
I have embraced the gospel. I’ve been born again into the family of God. That’s who he’s talking to here. And to really hear God’s voice in this book and in all of the books of the scripture, you really need to be one of God’s kids, because it is to them that this is preeminently addressed. The beauty is that anyone can become a part of his family by personally embracing Christ as savior.
First Corinthians talks about this. He says the man without the spirit. And another way of saying the man who is not been born again, who is not have the life of Christ in him. Does not accept the things that come from the spirit of God for they’re foolishness to him. And he can’t understand them because they’re spiritually discerned.
The second question I want to ask simply is where is this truth found? And in verse 21, he talks about the implanted word, this word that has been placed within you. Now God does use some unique and special ways to communicate to his, to his children. We have read about remarkable happenings all over the middle East and, uh, at some cases less, I’ve heard less stories.
Of primitive cultures, where God has actually used dreams to speak truth into people and countless illustrations of people, of Islamic backgrounds and, and an atheistic cultures where, where missionaries have come or someone’s come with the message of Christ. And they say, I know him, I’ve seen him. I didn’t know him, but God, they, they knew of him.
There was a prepare prayer, preparatory work. God had spoken in a unique way to them to prepare them, to hear the message of Christ. He speaks into our lives personally, with the Holy spirit, the longer you walk with Jesus, the more you know that God does give little nudges along the way, his spirit does prompt us and lead us.
He, in this sense, he does speak to us. Colossians three says, let the peace of God rule in your hearts. Since as members of one body are called the peace. What’s he talking about? Well, it literally means the word a rule is the word be the umpire. Let God’s peace. The peace that the spirit gives about this decision.
Uh, let that be a, an, an umpire in your life. Let that prompt you and lead you. God, God speaks to us. If you will. In that way, my wife grew up and early on. She was a Jesus follower in contrast to many of us that was years later, but when she was a young girl, she had given her life to the Lord and, uh, Uh, she was with a cousin, Steve, who, who also is a believer, but at the time was, well, his personality leads towards questioning and they were together one time.
And my wife leaned over or was said to him, they were talking together and Marianne said, Jesus speaks to me too. Which Steve replied? No, he doesn’t. She says, yes, he does. Jesus speaks to me. So he looked around and he said, I don’t believe it. Jesus. Jesus said, I don’t hear anything. What usually he doesn’t speak audibly.
Even the nudges are, are more internal. They are the prompting, it’s this piece of the spirit from within. But the primary way that he speaks is through his word, his normal way. Is speaking through what he is talking about as the word planted in us. In other words, the word took root as a seed in our lives.
It’s where we started in our faith. First, Peter one says it this way. For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable through the living and abiding word of God. It’s, it’s a seed in your life. It’s planted, but he says, if you want it to grow, keep feeding with the scripture, keep growing this new life that has taken place in your life.
It is word of God that created the growth created the birth created. It was the seed and it continues to need to grow. Now we are too. Do certain things in recess response to that. And that’s where I want to focus for the remainder of my time in verses 19 to 21, he talks about how we are to listen to God’s truth.
And he says, first of all, you got to be quick to hear you look for opportunities to hear that there is an intention in listening to God and. Letting him speak into your life, that there is a desire to personally make time to be with the Lord. The Bible is referred to as the milk for the infant or the new believer.
And is described as the meat or literally solid food for the growing believer. But the one commonality between milk and solid food is it’s all food. It’s all what is needed at that particular time in our life, whether you’re an infant and you can’t eat steaks yet, you get melt. But as you grow along, just as in physical life and spiritual life, you grow, you, you get more, you, you, you mature through that.
That there is food at every stage of the spiritual journey. And the food is the scripture. This past week, pastor Mike was at a seminary course escalate. He was doing online cause they’re meeting remotely right now. And he was challenged by the professor. I don’t know if it was in the little class or it was offline individually, but.
The guy challenged Mike with a challenge that has actually really taken root with many of us that I want to pass on to you. The challenge to Mike was to take the gospel of John and write it out. Handwritten, you know, with a pen, you may not remember how to do that, but to write it out every day. Take 10 to 10 verses a day and just write out the scripture, write out the gospel of John.
And if you do it every day and it starts tomorrow every day until Easter, you will conclude the gospel of John right at Easter Sunday. And Mike, then. Typically, if he was going to do work, Mike wanted to share the wealth. So he appealed to all of us on staff. Do you want to join me on this? He threw it on his Facebook.
A number of you have have joined. I’m sharing that with you as well. I invite you to join us. There were three things that appealed at different things, appealed to us. Number one, some of us had struck just as a very meaningful exercise. I know for me, I’m a visual learner and I know when I’m listening to somebody preach or I’m in a class.
I don’t remember a thing they say until I write it down. If you’re, if you’re a visual learner rather than verbal or an oral learner, uh, you’re probably like me writing it out, helps me to interact with the, to process with it. And it struck me as I love this idea. I’ve never actually done this written my way through a book of scripture, but I’m really looking forward to it.
Some it hit two just because it was novel. Well, the word of God tells us that it is living. But our reading can get really stale, right? If we’re doing the same way, the Santa’s well, you change up your approach. This is possibly an approach that God would prompt you to do as a way of invoking this passage, which says be quick to listen.
And it’s primarily talking about in the scripture. And the third thing I think that affected some of us was just the thought of. This is going to be a fantastic way to prepare me for Easter celebration. This year, I am going to be walking through the life of Jesus and the teachings of Jesus all the way up to the resurrection, and I’m going to be doing it every single day.
And if you want to be a part, you can go to Mike’s Facebook, you can indicate you want to be a part. You can check again at the, what I can figure. We call hub the hub. You can just, uh, online, you can just let somebody know in the office. Just take a, do a quick. Memo to the church office on our website. And we’ll get you involved in that.
But bottom line, I’m just trying to say if, if we are quick to listen, we are looking for opportunities to hear. We also are teachable when you do hear, I grew up in it church where there’s a pastor. I was over in cherry Hill, Bethel Baptist. Um, I actually, we moved down in high school when I was there. Dr.
Carla, Gina was the pastor. And I’ll never forget him saying this. Um, he was talking about sermons. He had heard, and he had heard a lot of them over the years. And I remember him making the statement and he said, I have never heard a sermon where I didn’t get something out of it for my own life. And then what a twinkle in his eye.
And if you know him, you could, you could imagine this, the twinkle in his eye, he said, I’ve had some close calls. Well, we get it. The idea was, he said, I’m always in learner mode. I’m always, I’m coming to script saying, God feed me. This is my food. We come teachable to hear the word of God. It’s not a road exercise.
And if your scripture reading or your devotions is, is maybe you need to switch up. Maybe, maybe you need to write out. Well, we come teachable third. We’re not focused on what you’ll say to others. Now this is particularly those of us that are in ministries of, of handling the word teaching or instructing, or maybe you’re gifted, encouragement.
You love, we don’t come just to hear what I’ll learn so I can tell others one of the most meaningful things I ever read about preaching was written by a guy named Phillip Brooks, the art of preaching. He wrote it back in the 17 hundreds and he said, this. The child of God who is involved in any kind of ministry of the word must not come to the word just as a conduit.
In other words, I get what I, I get my information, I get my sermon and I comment I’m just a conduit to flow through. He said, no, it must be like the reservoir that we are, our own lives are drinking in the scripture. So that what our preaching is, is just an old overflow of the reservoir. Like a waterfall.
I love that because quite honestly, when I’m falling behind in my own soul being fed and I’m trying to put sermons together. It’s dry, it’s draining. And I feel like all manager, he went to study and shoot. Now it’s gone, but, but I need more to live out of. We need a reservoir. We need to be spilling over in what we share with each other.
But our hearts and lives are a refreshed as a reservoir, as a repository of truth, we need to be listeners to truth. Second of all. We need to be slow to speak as it is often pointed out, God gave us two ears, one mouth we’re called to listen more than to talk. Now that certainly has relevance in our marriages and our relationships, but James is not trying primarily to focus and make us good listeners in our marriages and relationships.
It’s a great principle, but the focus is on listening to God in these verses. We must be slow to speak if we are to listen. Well, you remember the passage where Peter is up there on the mountain of transfiguration and there he’s seen the glory of Christ and only three men would ever see Christ, glorified and revealed in his glory, in his earthly life like Peter, James and John did on the Mount of transfiguration.
And he’s so pumped up because Moses shows up and, and Elijah shows up and it’s just this miraculous experience and they’re there to credit Christ and worship Christ. And so Peter comes up with this idea. He said, Lord, it’s good for us to be here. If you wish I’ll put up three shelters, one for you, one for Moses, one for Elijah.
I mean, I got ideas. I mean, I’ve, I’ve been waiting for an opportunity. I’ve got some great designs on it. You know, a simple tent that I can put up in timer night. And all of a sudden this booming voice comes and says this while he was still speaking, a bright cloud, enveloped them and a voice in the cloud says, this is my son whom I love with whom I am.
Well pleased. Listen to him. He came into God’s presence full of his own on ideas and his own thoughts. Hey, we do that all the time. Right? We come to pray. We come to listen to scripture and we find her so, so distract you so much going on. So what do we do with that? When, when your minds are, are so heavy?
Well, number one, that’s why I believe the greatest time of day to get with the Lord is the first thing in the morning. Don’t start with the Dow Jones TV shows. Don’t start with, with stock advice. Don’t start with sports radio. Don’t start with God. Let them be the first voice. Let him fill your mind first.
But some of us are still constantly agitated mind. So what do you do when you have these distractions? I’ve found the only way I can deal with the distractions that come to me when I’m trying to reflect on scriptures or I’m trying to pray, I just take those thoughts and I jot them down. Right. And I make them apart.
I say, Lord, in my prayer, I immediately bring that in. If, if I’m reading the scripture, I put them aside and I, I know I’m going to address them. I make them a part of it. If I can’t keep them out of it, I bring them apart as well. But, but listening means that we are slow to speak that our own thoughts.
Aren’t what we are hearing loudest. We’re putting those aside. We listened to the Lord and then we are slow to anger. Now there are two words for anger in the new Testament, in the Greek. The first word is the word that is, uh, it actually through Moss. It is the word that refers to this, this explosive, uh, anger it is, is volcanic is the idea.
This is the blowup kind of anger. We have terms for this kind of anger, lose your temper, blow your pool. Uh, somebody went off, what’s a picture of a volcano. We get it. This is somebody that just popped their cork. This is, this is the, the, the, the blow up type of anger. This is the kind of anger that, uh, gives other people ulcers, but there’s another word for anger in the new Testament.
It’s the word or gay. It is the word that talks about an internal anger. It’s, it’s pictured by this coil where we’re adding. It just goes in and in and in downtown, this is the kind of anger it gives you ulcers. It’s what we associate with bitterness and resentment. It’s the clam up type of anger. Both are expressions of sinful anger.
However, the unique thing is, and the word for clam up anger is the one used in this passage. This word can also be used in a positive sense, but here’s what he’s saying. First, I’m going to come back to it. He uses this word, this, this word of internalized anger. And he says to us, be careful with it. Now what was happening in the book of James is these early Christians were being terribly mistreated.
They were the objects of, of serious injustice for their faith. Many of them were facing social ostracism, as we know, some of them were killed and the response was there was a sense of anger. Now the question could be asked, well, why isn’t any anger as in their anger sometimes justified. I mean, isn’t there a righteous anger?
Yes, there is. And this word is the one that is used a new Testament to talk about that righteous anger in Ephesians chapter four, verse 25 and 26. It says this be angry and do not sin. In other words, you can be angry. You can have this settled state. There is a righteous sense of anger and not sin. He says be angry and do not sin.
So what happens to make this. Appropriate anger, inappropriate and destructive. Well, he goes on to tell us in Ephesians four, here’s what he says. Be angry and do not sin. Do not let the sun go down on your anger and give no opportunity to the devil. Here’s what I think he’s saying. He’s saying you can have this righteous anger, you can have this sense of, of this is not right, and this is wrong.
And, and I’m, I’m gonna, I’m going to stand against this and it’s absolutely appropriate. But he said, be very careful because that anger can take root. And that’s why he says, you know, it’s why many people take this passage and say in a marriage, don’t go to bed angry. I think there’s great wisdom in that.
But the principle is basically this. Make sure that you don’t hold on to that for too long and that it doesn’t become consuming to you because you give opportunity to the devil and your experience. So what does all this have to do with James one? Mark? Well, you can have a righteous anger, but it can start to consume you.
It can start to completely take over you. Can’t let it go, man. What’s going on culturally and you find yourself, you can’t stay away from the internet. I can’t still not going to watch another video. I gotta hit another website. I gotta, I gotta, I gotta get out there. I gotta post and I got to read the Postmate or fight their posts.
We’re going to hear another one. And you say, what are you doing? They say, well, I’m, I’m, I’m I’m righteously angry. Well, may be. You were, but maybe you’re not anymore. Maybe the way you’re talking has more effect from righteous anger, where you were letting God speak into you too. Now you are letting the devil.
Direct you that’s exactly what Paul was warning about in Ephesians four. He said be angry. Good. Okay. But watch out, not let the devil gain an opportunity with you. Righteous anger can become poisonous because the devil makes it. Poison.
You mean need to ask yourself the question and your passion to spread the message of righteousness? Are you an angry writer or was one young woman? I was talking to this week was talking about somebody else. And she made a statement and had not heard many of you probably have, who are more active in social media than I am, but, but she said, um, no that person’s an attacker.
She was talking about another believer, but they’re an attacker. I don’t think you want to be known as an attacker. I don’t think we want to be known as an attacker. Do we want to have righteous convictions? Do we want to at times feel appropriate righteous indignation? Yes. It reminded me of years ago I was watching a talk show and I believe in how I think I was home and I haven’t, I don’t even, I don’t remember what it was.
But it’s just a daytime deal. And there was a couple that was presenting and this couple was talking, um, they were representing their work in New York city, which they owned. It was either 10 or 12 abortion clinics and they were presenting their work and they had people come and come up to the microphone and ask them questions.
And there was a significant representation of pro-life people. I’ll say category. I am pro-life, um, and would identify with where they were coming from in terms of position wholeheartedly, but when they got to the microphone and it just grew more vociferous, if you prove more, more, um, attack mode and it was, it was awful.
And, and as they were talking, and, and finally there was one older woman that was just. Had lost her mind with anger and she was attacking this woman. And I remember sitting there and the owner of the abortion clinic made this statement. She said, um, where do I have it?
This is going to be a Willie paraphrase because I didn’t write down the quote bottom line. She lost her marbles and the lady responded something like, wow, that really sounds like Jesus. And I sat there and thought you’re right. It doesn’t, I can’t imagine Jesus talking that way. I just can’t imagine it, but I believe that woman knew Jesus and I believe she was passionately burdened for unborn shorter, but at that moment, in that place, on that medium opportunity, she was, it was allowing the devil to have an opportunity in her art.
Anger had crossed the line when you are that revved up. When you are that charged, you’re going to have a hard time being a listener. You’re going to have a hard time having a quiet spirit with Jesus. He is saying in James chapter, one part of really being able to live quietly with Jesus is, you know, the.
Place where you are able to say, I just have to pull back. I just, it’s not helping me. It’s it’s turning me into an angry, volatile. I’m consumed with this,
to the Lord where you’re giving room for God in your ear. Two probably giving opportunity for the devil in your heart. I’m saying that I know that’s heavy, but I think it’s important because we want to have the Lord rule. Every part of our lives. We want to be listeners who want to hear, and that involves specifically intentionally listening.
It involves specifically not talking so much of their own thoughts and letting our own thoughts, consume our thinking. It also involves not being consumed with anger. We want to be listeners to this, and I want to invite you to join us as we scroll our way through the gospel of John. Uh, all the pressure’s on pastor Mike, he says, he’s going to keep us on track.
Um, I’m delighted to have him in that role, but I invite you to join us. Marin. We’re both doing it. We’re excited to do it. You’re welcome to join us. As we journey through the gospel of John being listeners to truly celebrate the resurrection in days to come Lord, take these. Practical words. I hope they’re practical words,
Lord, thank you. That you speak in the midst of the chaos and the confusion and the volatility and the tension, which probably is going to be with us for awhile. Culturally, we believe you call us to be people that. Stand with deep convictions for truth and righteousness,
who, who are most of all known as people who listen, who here, who are shaped by the spirit of God speaking quietly into our lives. And we’re not attackers. Jesus didn’t have to attack, but he spoke truth. That was powerful to people. Lord, let us learn and let us grow and let us show Jesus. I pray in Jesus name.
Amen. Now go in peace to love and serve and enjoy the Lord.