(The following is an edited extract from the message that was preached by Michael Larsen on October 14. 2018.)
The Bible promises comfort, strength, hope, wisdom, joy, power, and purpose. But just because you have a Bible doesn't mean you're going to get the benefit from it. James gives us three steps on how to be blessed by the Bible.
James 1:25 is the key verse: “But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.” The bible promises freedom and it promises blessing. James gives us three steps to receiving those two things.
1. I MUST RECEIVE GOD'S WORD IF I'M GOING TO BE BLESSED BY IT
James 1:21 says, “Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.” James says we must receive the word of God with the right attitude. He gives us four attitudes you need to be blessed by God's word.
1. Be careful. I must have a careful attitude. James 1:19 says, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak …”
2. Be calm. Be calm if you're going to receive God's word and be blessed by it. James 1:19 also says be “slow to become angry ...”
3. Be clean. Before you can plant the seed, you need to do a little weeding. Verse 21 says “Get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent”
4. Be compliant. We have to be humble and teachable. Verse 21 also says "humbly accept the word of God planted in you, which can save you.
God says if you want to be blessed, first you have to receive His Word with these four hearing aids. However, reception is not enough. James says we also need to...
2. REFLECT ON THE WORD OF GOD
James 1:23-24 says, “Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and after looking at himself immediately goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.”
How do we reflect on it? James gives us three practical ways to reflect on the word of God.
1. Read it. v. 25 says “the man who looks intently into the perfect law…”
2. Review it. v. 25 “...and continues to do so...”
3. Remembering it. v. 25 “... not forgetting what he has heard.”
James tells us to receive God's word with the right attitude. And then to reflect on God's word by reading it, reviewing it, remembering it. But even that's not enough.
3. I MUST RESPOND TO THE WORD OF GOD
I must do act on it and practice it. vs. 22 says “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”
Our biggest problems are getting along with other people. So James talks about getting along with people. At the beginning of chapter 2, he gives us the principle, the problem, and the application in this passage.
James 2:1 says “My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don't show favoritism.”
In order to deal with prejudice or favoritism, we need to look at some common areas of discrimination.
This is the area that James picks out of all the areas we can discriminate in. He talks about economic distinction. James 2:2-4 says "Suppose a man comes to your meeting wearing gold rings and fine clothes and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say `Here's a good seat for you' but say to the poor man `You stand over there' or `Sit on the floor at my feet', have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?"
James says there are three problems with favoritism.
1. Favoritism is unchristian. If you want to be like Jesus, you can't play favorites. James 2:1 says “My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don't show favoritism.”
2. Favoritism is unreasonable. In v. 5-7 he says it's illogical, it doesn't make sense. James 2:5-7: “Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? But you have insulted the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? Are they not the ones who are slandering the noble name of him to whom you belong?”
3. Favoritism is unloving. James 2:8 says“If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, `Love your neighbor as yourself.' you're doing right.”
How can we treat people right? There are 3 steps.
1. Accept everybody.
2. Appreciate everybody.
Philippians 2:3 says “Do nothing from selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourself. Each of you should look not only to your own interest but also the interest of others.”
3. Affirm everybody. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 tells us to “Encourage one another and build each other up.”