Listening and Doing
In verses 19-21 we deal with a subject that is so wrongfully taught in our churches, anger. There are many church denominations that teach the sin of anger. Naturally, they don’t give scripture references because there aren’t any to be found.
James didn’t say that anger was a sin, he simply stated that anger would not lead to the righteousness God wants us to have. The sin is in the action taken because of the anger. People who have problems with anger usually let the anger linger and it turns to malice and sometimes vengeance.
Paul told the people at Ephesus. “be angry, but do not sin.” (Ephesians 4:26) Paul went on to say that we should not allow this anger to linger through the night. We should resolve the anger before the sun goes down. If you do as Paul tells you, the problem will go away. Your anger won’t turn to anything that is a sin.
Did you know that most people who get angry are expressing their disappointment with themselves? Don’t take that anger out on someone else. Listen to the other person, if they make you angry, simply excuse yourself and walk away. Anger without actions only leads to ulcers and never affects the other person.
Herein lies my problem. I don’t wait. I usually start saying things that offend. I never use vulgar language or anything of that sort. God took that type of language from me years ago. But I do have to apologize to that person and make it right. Behavior of this sort is not a sin, but it does not lead to the righteousness that God wants Christians to display at all times. Don’t allow the world to make you look bad to God.
In verses 22-27, James is talking about actions connected to our faith. Many churches teach that we are saved by faith alone and you don’t need anything else. While they are correct about you being saved and your sins were forgiven, they fail to mention the rest of the story.
Being saved is only the second of many steps that must be taken to attain salvation. Jesus tells us in Matthew 7:21 that these people, who have only the faith, will not enter the kingdom of Heaven. The action Jesus mentions here is that you do the will of the Father. You can’t go to church on Sunday and listen to the preacher or teacher and hope to do the will of the Father. You must study the bible for yourself also.
When our pastor preaches, I follow his bible reading myself and then I listen to what he says and I know he is telling the truth. How do I know that? Because I have studied the bible for many years with God, with the pastor, and with different teachers. I have taken courses online that were recommended by those I know are truly called by God to teach or preach.
Not everyone who comes to church and professes to be a Christian are my brothers and sisters in Christ. Some of them are Believers, some of them are confused and have been deceived, some are just pretending to be Christians to impress their friends (Matthew 12:49-50).
People who live “in Christ” also live in the love of Christ. We must follow the commands of God and of Jesus in order to live “in Christ.” In John 15;9-17, Jesus tells us how we can accomplish this. If we are brothers and sisters in Christ, we must have the same love for God and for each other that Jesus had. Jesus said, “if you keep my Commands you will remain in my love.” Jesus went on to say that we should keep those commands as He had kept the Father’s commands. Jesus never sinned, because He lived as the Father had told Him to live. If we study the bible, prayerfully, we will learn both the Father’s commands and those of Christ.
James sums up this whole thing in today’s scripture reading. In verse 22 James tells us, “Do not merely listen to the word, and deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” In other words, we must listen to the teachers and preachers but more importantly, we must study the word, then we must live what we have heard and what we have learned through studying the word. If we can’t live the word every day, we deceive ourselves and are not Christians