04 James 1v19-21 Hindrances to Fruitfulness

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The Structure of the Book
Introduction and Trials in the Christian Life (1: 1-8)
Happiness in our Circumstances(1: 9-11)
Trial, Temptation and Gift (1: 12-18)
Hindrances to Fruitfulness (1: 19-21)
Doers and Hearers (1: 22-25)
True Religion (1: 26-27)
Favouritism (2: 1-7)
The Royal Law (2: 8-12a)
Showing Mercy (2.12b-13]
Faith and Works (2:14-26)
Teachers and the Tongue (3: 1-12)
True and False Wisdom, (3: 13-17)
Peacemakers (3: 18)
Defeat Through Lack of Submission(4: 1-6)
Victory Through Submission(4: 7—10)
Judging One Another (4: 11-12)
Boasting of Tomorrow (4: 13-17)
The Misuse of Wealth(5: 1-6)
The Need of Patience (5: 7-12)
Appropriate Responses (5:13-16)
Restoring the Wanderer (5:17-20)
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We have seen that the Christian is
empowered by God with new
spiritual life. And we have noted
that God looks to see if that life
bears the fruit he has empowered
it to bear.
James now identifies some of the
fruit God is looking for in our lives
and the qualities that prevent the
development of fruitfulness.
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A Readiness to listen
Does it seem strange that James should
place "readiness to listen" v19 at the top
of his list? Think about what Jesus had to
say about this subject: Mk 4.24 "consider
carefully what you hear" and Lk 8.18
"consider carefully how you listen".
In both contexts God's Word is referedto.
One evidence that God is at work in our
hearts is our hunger for God's Word. We
give it our keenest concentration.
In some parts of the world people walk for
walk for two or three hours in order to
hear God's Word. Some people only come
to church if they have nothing more
interesting planned for the day!
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A Readiness to listen
A readiness to listen has other applications. Children sometimes put their
hands over their ears when they are being told things they don’t want to hear!
Christians can sometimes come to their Bibles or to a service, looking for
guidance. They want to know how to behave in a certain situation. But they
have secretly made their mind up what they intend to do and if God's Word
doesn't match their viewpoint or prejudice then they stop their ears to God's
Example: Jonah, "The Word of God
came to Jonah..." God addressed
Jonah's deafness in the treatment
room of the stomach of a great fish.
Jesus took account of the prejudice
of many of his hearers when he said,
"He who has ears to hear..."
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A Readiness to listen
In the midst of Christian work we can often be too
busy. There is much to be done and we neglect
quality listening time. Note the example of the
Lord Jesus – he arose for communion with the
father “a great while before day” [Mark 1.35].
How are we to listen? Among other things it will
involve a silent waiting upon God, listening for his
voice, longing for the Holy Spirit to impress upon
our hearts the living truth we need to hear.
In both private and public worship we Should
cultivate the spirit of May Grimnes hymn:
Speak Lord in the stillness, while I wait on Thee,
Hushed my heart to listen, in expectancy.
Speak they servant heareth. be not silent Lord,
Waits my soul upon Thee,
For the quickening word.
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Reticence in Speech
Secondly, James encourages reticence in
speech, we should be "slow to speak".
James has a lot to say in this epistle about
the dangers of speaking too freely and of
the destructive effect of speech.
We read in Proverbs 10v19, "when words
are many, sin is not absent, but he who
holds his tongue is wise" and again in
21v23, "He who guards his mouth and his
tongue keeps himself from calamity".
The Rabbis used to have a saying which
went something like this- "Men have two
ears but one tongue, that they should
hear more than they speak. The ears are
always open and ever ready to hear
instruction; but the tongue is surrounded
with a double row of teeth to hedge it in
and keep it within proper bounds."
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Reticence in Speech
We treat our speech so casually but God
treats it extremely seriously. We need to
bear in mind the instruction of Jesus in
Matt12.36 "men will give an account in
the day of judgement for every careless
word they have spoken".
If we printed those words on a card and
looked at them every time we were about
to speak we would get far better mileage
out of our tongues.
But in what way should we be slow to
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Reticence in Speech
1. We should be slow to speak about ourselves!
The mark of a developing character is interest in
others. The speech of the Christian should not be
self centred, and dominated by a capital "I". We
need to show interest in the needs and concerns
of others. Our speech should encourage others.
We should resist the temptation to constantly
speak about ourselves for that reveals a stunted
spiritual growth. Boastfulness is never becoming
in a Christian. Oswald Chambers, the famous
Christian teacher wrote, “The great test of a
man's character is his tongue”.
An egotist is a man who talks about himself so
much that you don't have a chance to talk about
yourself. VANCE HAVNER
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Reticence in Speech
2. We should be slow to speak about others!
Some people are determined to pass a verdict upon
every person who is mentioned in a conversation.
They give the impression that they know all the
facts and that they have a definitive judgement to
make. Criticism can so easily cripple fruitful
Christian service. When we criticise another we
imply that we ourselves are above reproach. To
criticise the anger of another implies that we are
the essense of self-control, to criticise a man's
selfishness again that we are the most selfless of
people. It has been said, before speaking ask
yourselves three important questions.
a. Is it true?
b. Is it kind?
c. Is it necessary?
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Reticence in Speech
Its so easy to thro away critical and
unkind words but impossible to control
them when they have left our lips.
A woman who was a notorious gossip
visited her minister and he took her out
into his garden. He had with him a
pillow filled with goose feathers. He
emptied the pillow and the feathers
were blown all over the village. He
asked her if she would be able to bring
them back. She said it was impossible.
In the same way, said the minister, it is
impossible to undo the damage done by
a gossiping and critical tongue. After
that the woman’s speech was much
more restrained!
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Reluctance in Anger
Notice James does not forbid anger. The Bible
expects us to get angry, "In your anger do not sin.
Do not let the sun go down on your anger” Eph
4.26. It is because anger is such a powerful
passion likely to get out of control that James
counsels caution. The line between anger and
personal irritation is sometimes very thin. There
is a very hazy border between defending
principles and defending ourselves.
Our anger is seldom a reflection of the righteous
anger of God, who is ‘compassionate and
gracious and slow to anger abounding in love’
[Psalm 86.15]. Now a blazing, irrational,
uncontrolled temper has no place in the Christian
lifestyle James is unfolding here. The Christian
should at all times seek to bring every part of his
life under the control of the Holy Spirit.
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James has identified three areas of defilement to be rooted out of the
Christians life. He wants to see God's firstfruit, those separated to God,
reflect Christ's likeness. He lumps together the matters he had just been
discussing under the heading of "moral filth" and exhorts his readers to
have a good spring clean. Before work begins
rooms can look superficially but once a damp
cloth is rubbed over the areas the truth is revealed.
That is what James wants to say to his readers.
All is not as clean as you first thought. Do not
spare those things in your life obscure the
likeness of Jesus which the Holy Spirit
wants to produce in you. How does this
cleaning come about? cf.v21... as we yield
ourselves to the word of God which identifies
our condition and which promises us the help of
the Holy Spirit to deal with all that is un-Christlike.
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