First, let me welcome home Jenny, Chuck, and their new son, Joshua Curtis. They just got back from Africa Tuesday. Welcome home! Also, congrats to Janella and Aaron Stronczek on their new girl Jarie Stronczek. A lot of babies born this year!
Chapter 1 of James can be broken into two sections. The first section (1:1-18) focuses on trials, temptations, maturity, God’s wisdom (which is kind of a running theme throughout the entire book of James), and God’s generosity. We serve a very good God. The second section (1:19-27) focuses on doing God’s Word. James gives a clear definition of what true religion is in verse 27. He writes,
Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.
In this we see the principle of love for God (keeping oneself pure and unstained by the world) and neighbor (providing for orphans and widows who can’t help themselves). Here are some other tidbits of practical advice from verses 19-27:
Be quick to listen to others
Be slow to speak
Be slow to get angry
Put aside all filthiness and what remains of wickedness
Receive the word in humility
Prove themselves doers of the word.
Put the word into practice
Abide in the perfect law
Have a tame tongue
Visit orphans and widows
Keep themselves unstained by the world
I think verse 22 is the key verse of this section. It reads
Prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.
This verse holds us accountable for what we do with God’s Word. To be a “hearer” only is to deceive ourselves and forget what we look like. If we only hear we miss out on God’s blessings. There is a reward for obedience to God’s Word. Verse 25 says we are blessed (Makarios). To be blessed in this way means we have the favor of God upon us. Jesus told His disciples that the poor and poor in spirit were blessed (Matthew 5:3). Wouldn’t it be nice to know God is pleases with you? If yes, be a doer of the word. Obey God because you love Him.