Reflections on James 1:19-27
This was our Sunday School lesson on July 26th and I am still smarting over it. I realized how important the message is and how far I fall from the ideal.
Being the teacher of the class sometimes puts us in a position I don’t like. I am placed as an authority when I am the worst of the lot, the one who should keep my mouth shut. “Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,” is the passage for the day.
What concerns me with this lesson is that it is so clear, yet so difficult. It is easy to get an opinion from anyone, just ask, but what is the purpose of our opinion? Isn’t it to sway others? It seems to me that “opinions” have become more important than theology. The result is that our opinions define our beliefs and who we are. Yet, James says that a mirror gives us the best uncomplicated view of ourselves when we look at it with Biblical intent. The mirror really shows who we are internally if we search for that, which we don’t, it’s so much easier to smile and say what a hearty person we are and go our own way without hearing!
In reality, we are disfigured because we face a delusional world. Everything has an answer and the answer that gathers the most publicity wins. There is no longer room for second place. In response to this, James says, “HUMBLY accept the word planted in you, which can save you.” (v.21) No doubt, the word planted in each of us is different. We read different parts of the Bible, but somewhere God does speak to us. To Dan he says, “Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” In other words, listen to the spiritual notes that sparkle in your life – or play the song that God puts in your heart.
Unfortunately, for me my life is influenced by the sicknesses which surround me. Not a week goes by but that I am not touched with a “hopelessness” that causes me to tear up a bit. I go away and say a prayer but my spirit feels the loneliness of the person I am talking to, the terror in their lives, and the haunting of death to their loved ones. In reality, the final act of our lives should sum up who we are. And that is the problem. How do we separate who we really are from the “dressed up, clean shaven, image we present to others.” Is facing death the only place we can be honest?
Well, James concludes with some rather sturdy advice for us. From the Dan Phillips translation he says, “look after people who are needy and in distress (hopeless fighting the odds against them) and keep oneself from being polluted by the world (just because MSNBC or FOX News says it does not mean it is the gospel truth.) (James 1:27)
You think about that!