James 1:22-25 Just Do It!
I read about a guy who came to church late. He walked in right near the end of the service. He said to an usher, "Is the sermon done yet?" The usher answered wisely.
He said, "The sermon has been preached, but it has yet to be done."
In James 1:19, James writes, “Everyone should be quick to listen.”
And a few verses later he adds, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”
Today’s message is about the importance of listening, the possibility of deception, and the necessity of obedience!
* LISTENING IS UNDERRATED!!
A long time ago someone pointed out that God gave us two ears and one mouth so that we would listen twice as much as we speak.
Prov 19:20 “Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise.”
There is wisdom to be gained from listening!
But obviously, we should use discretion in choosing our teachers.
I am sure you recall that the Berean believers “searched the scriptures daily” to see if the words of the apostle Paul were true!
We have the same philosophy here.
The church family here is encouraged to listen to the messages of the teachers and preacher but not with mindless trust.
We encourage all those who worship with us to check it out on your own.
* LISTENING TAKES PRACTICE!!
Sometimes Janice will speak to me without getting my attention.
I am perfectly capable of “hearing” sounds coming from her mouth; but without getting my attention first, I will not be able to process those sounds into intelligible sentences.
She has to make sure that my eyes are looking into her eyes, and even then it is not a given.
When preachers preach, and teachers teach, there is a process that takes place.
We call it communication.
Effective communication takes place when the speaker and the listener are both involved in the process.
* Communication experts will tell you that there are different listening modes.
1. Competitive or Combative Listening. This happens when we are more interested in promoting our own point of view than in understanding or exploring someone else’s.
This modes often takes place during an argument.
We either listen for openings to take the floor, or for flaws or weak points we can attack.
As we pretend to pay attention we are impatiently waiting for an opening.
This happens when we come to the table of communication with a bunch of baggage!
2. In Passive or Attentive Listening This takes place when we are genuinely interested in hearing and understanding the other person’s point of view.
We assume that we heard and understand correctly but remain passive and do not verify it.
This often happens when the listener has complete trust in the speaker.
3. Active or Reflective Listening This is the single most useful and important listening skill.
In active listening we are also genuinely interested in understanding what the other person is thinking, feeling, wanting, or what the message means.
This is what usually takes place during our bible classes and sermons.
It is active because we have stock in what is being said; and what is being said demands a response.
This appears to be the kind of listening that James was expecting when he wrote,
“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”
But listening is not enough.
As a matter of fact, according to James, if we believe that listening is enough, we have in fact, deceived ourselves.
* Self-deception is mentioned several times in the bible.
I Jn 1:8 “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”
Gal 6:3 “If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.”
Just as we can deceive ourselves into “thinking that we are without sin”.
Just as we can deceive ourselves into “thinking that we are all that, when we are not”.
We can be deceived into “thinking that listening to the word of God is enough.”
But listening is just the beginning.
* Ill. A 2006 medical study revealed that listening is one thing but following the Doctor’s orders was something else.
Every heart by-pass patient is instructed to change their lifestyle.
They are told to change their diet; stop smoking if they smoke; and to exercise.
In essence the doctors say, “Change or die!”
Studies show that 2 years after heart surgery 90% of all 500,000+ heart bypass surgery patients for that year had not changed their habits.
My mom is one of the rare persons that actually did what the doctors said to do.
I remember very well how she changed the way she ate, and how she exercised religiously for years and years.
I think it is safe to say that she is here today because of her willingness to follow the doctor’s orders.
But the vast majority of the patients in that survey didn’t heed the advice of the doctors.
It appears that they had deceived themselves into thinking that the surgery was enough.
It’s kind of like that with God’s word.
Teachers and preachers beg and plead, and implore their audience, not just to listen to what God says, but to change accordingly. “Be doers of the word and not hearers only”.
* Not only is it important to listen; not only should we be on guard against the deceptive argument that listening is enough; we should also obey God’s word.
This is where application begins.
A person can be a bible scholar, and know every scripture, but if he does not apply the word in his life, his knowledge is useless to himself.
* I read about an old newspaper clipping found in one of the Bibles in the Bible in America Museum’s collection. It revealed a very interesting story.
Many years ago, the Prince of Granada, heir to the Spanish throne, was imprisoned in solitary confinement for thirty three years in the Palace of Skulls in Madrid.
It was said of that dungeon that once you went in, you didn’t come out alive.
Once he was placed in prison he was given only one book to read; the Bible.
And apparently he read it a lot over his 33 year confinement.
At his death, it was discovered that the walls of his cell were covered with statistics about the Bible.
Keep in mind that these statistics were gathered long before the existence of the computer.
The middle chapter and the shortest in the Bible is Psalm 117.
The word “And” occurs in the Old Testament 35,543 times; in the NT- 10, 684 times.
The word Jehovah occurs 6,855 times.
The middle book in the New Testament is 2nd Thessalonians.
The middle chapters are Romans 13 and 14.
The middle verse is in Acts 18:17.
The shortest verse is in John 11:35.
And the list goes on and on!
The question on the mind of many was, “Did the Bible’s message ever affect the man”?
We may not know until we see the Lord but they found nothing to indicate after all those years that the message of God had changed his life.
It appeared to be nothing more that a book that occupied his mind.
“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, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.”
* There was a businessman in a service industry that got tired of being yelled at.
He was fed up with customers who expected five-star service at Motel 6 prices.
One day, he became oddly detached during another customer tirade; he felt as though he were watching a movie.
In fact, he couldn't help but think that the angry woman's antics made her look like a monkey.
That observation gave him a brilliant idea.
He put a giant mirror behind the front desk—and the customer tirades ceased.
When people saw how ugly they looked while yelling and screaming, they stopped.
* I read where are third grade class was given the assignment of drawing their likeness on paper without mirrors.
After one little boy finished he realized that he had drawn a picture of a complete stranger.
* James likens looking in a mirror and immediately forgetting what we look like to listening to the word but not doing what it says.
Right before our eyes in God’s word is a reflection of who we are, what we need, and what Christ wants us to be.
But if we don’t put it into action it is nothing more than another book.
Sunday is the day we come together as a family of believers to worship our Lord.
It is the day we rally around the cross, nourish our spirits, and remind each other of how blessed we really are.
Our faith is strengthened on Sunday, but it is to be lived out the rest of the week.
“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.”
This is a description of an active/reflective listener.
He/she doesn’t just listen and walk away, but “looks intently” into the law that gives freedom.
“Looking intently” means “to remain beside” or “to continue always near”.
It is the attitude of letting Christ live in one’s heart.
It is a humble spirit that moves us to kneel at the foot of the cross.
It is a life lived with God’s will in mind.
Matt 7:24-25 Jesus said,
"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.
The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.”
The blessing of obedience is preparedness.
With Christ as our foundation, we will be prepared for the storms of life.
With Christ as our guide, we will remain on the path that He has set before us.
And with Christ as our Lord, His will won’t be a matter of “if” but “when”.
If you are ready to put the Lord’s Word into practice today, we would like to invite you to let us know as together we stand and sing.