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James 1:19-27 ESV

(19) Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to
speak, slow to anger;
(20) for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness that God requires.
(21) Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with
meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

James brings up the topic of anger which has been the problem of many Christians. How
often we are quick to speak and yet slow to hear. I have found in many cases of people
being offended, they heard one sentence out of hundreds that were spoken and chose to
focus on that. Then they tune out the rest of what the person has to say and miss the
context in which the person spoke.

We should be swift to hear. This is an unusual command, with almost a trace of humor
in it. It’s like saying, “Hurry up and hear!” It means that we should be ready to hear the
word of God, as well as all godly counsel and admonition. We should be teachable by the
Holy Spirit. We should be slow to speak. It is surprising how much James has to say
about our speech! He cautions us to be guarded in our conversation. Even nature itself
teaches us this. Epictetus noticed so long ago: “Nature has given to man one tongue, but
two ears, that we may hear from others twice as much as we speak.” Solomon would
have agreed heartily with James. He once said, “He who guards his mouth preserves his
life, but he who opens wide his lips shall have destruction” (Prov. 13:3). He also said, “In
the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise” (Prov.
10:19). Compulsive talkers eventually transgress. Believer's Bible Commentary : Old and
New Testaments

In verse 20, the righteousness spoken of is not that of salvation – but the outward conduct
of our lives. In this context, James is speaking of making our “spiritual life” practical.

We are to approach the Word of God with meekness which is a willingness to be taught.
It has been said that when one graduates from college he knows everything about
everything. After he gets his Master’s degree, he knows a lot about one particular
subject. Upon obtaining the PhD – he knows very little about one particular aspect of
one subject. Let us keep that sense of humility and willingness to be taught the Word.

The implanted word which is able to save your souls. – it is the seed that is planted
that begins to grow. Too many people expect that with a head knowledge of Scripture
comes change – but James again reminds us that we are to receive the implanting of that
Word and allow the germination process to take place. The Greek word sodza –
translated save also means healing, restoration, and deliverance. Whatever you need
from God – you need to receive the Word implanted in your soul to receive your harvest.

Purity of life is not a quest for perfection as much as it is a quest for liberation from those
things that may inhibit effectiveness and reduce power-filled living.
Spirit filled life study Bible
I love this quote from the Spirit filled bible – holiness is not so much about being perfect
as it is losing those things that hinder us and keep us from being productive. We need to
get the weeds out if we want our garden to grow!

(22) But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
(23) For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who
looks intently at his natural face in a mirror.
(24) For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.
(25) But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres,
being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his
doing.

1:23, 24 Anyone who hears the word but does not change his behavior is like a man
who takes a fleeting glance in the mirror each morning, then completely forgets what he
saw. He derives no benefit from the mirror or from looking into it. Of course, there are
some things about our appearance that cannot be changed. But at least we should be
humbled by the sight! And when the mirror says “Wash” or “Shave” or “Comb” or
“Brush,” we should at least do as we are told. Otherwise the mirror is of no practical
benefit to us.
It is easy to read the Bible casually or because of a sense of duty without being
affected by what we read. We see what we ought to be but we quickly forget and live as if
we were already perfect. This type of self-satisfaction prevents spiritual progress.
1:25 In contrast is the man who looks into the word of God and who habitually
reduces it to practice. His contemplative, meditative gazing has practical results in his
life. To him the Bible is the perfect law of liberty. Its precepts are not burdensome. They
tell him to do exactly what his new nature loves to do. As he obeys, he finds true freedom
from human traditions and carnal reasonings. The truth makes him free. This is the man
who benefits from the Bible. He does not forget what he has read. Rather he seeks to live
it out in daily practice. His simple childlike obedience brings incalculable blessing to his
soul. This one will be blessed in what he does.
Believer's Bible Commentary : Old and New Testaments

(26) If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives
his heart, this person's religion is worthless.
(27) Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit
orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the
world.

Again – when James is talking about religion here- he is talking about our outward
conduct. All the ceremony and liturgy in the world won’t make up for a stingy character
or a mean spirit. Jesus said that we would know them by their fruits – look at what the
person does.

Keeping oneself unstained from the world – it used to be if you didn’t drink or smoke,
you were pretty much holy. Today we have so many worldviews that influence us –
humanism, communism, atheism, etc. How unstained are you? Do you see the world
through God’s eyes as laid out in the word or by the philosophies of men?