International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday February 2, 2014
Purpose: To recognize that authentic faith always leads to compassionate acts of mercy and a commitment to justice
Bible Lesson: Scripture Text: James 1:19-27
James 1:19-27 (CEB)
(19) Know this, my dear brothers and sisters: everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to grow angry. (20) This is because an angry person doesn’t produce God’s righteousness. (21) Therefore, with humility, set aside all moral filth and the growth of wickedness, and welcome the word planted deep inside you—the very word that is able to save you.
(22) You must be doers of the word and not only hearers who mislead themselves. (23) Those who hear but don’t do the word are like those who look at their faces in a mirror. (24) They look at themselves, walk away, and immediately forget what they were like. (25) But there are those who study the perfect law, the law of freedom, and continue to do it. They don’t listen and then forget, but they put it into practice in their lives. They will be blessed in whatever they do.
(26) If those who claim devotion to God don’t control what they say, they mislead themselves. Their devotion is worthless. (27) True devotion, the kind that is pure and faultless before God the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their difficulties and to keep the world from contaminating us.
My Thoughts by Burgess Walter
As we start the final unit of this quarters study (“Live justly in the Reign of God”) we move from the gospel of Luke to the Book (or Epistle) of James. Some commentators refer to it as an Epistle, although it does not read like most letters. To some it reads more like one of the Books of Wisdom, you would find in the Old Testament.
The author is most often thought to be James, which headed up the church in Jerusalem, and taught a more Jewish form of Christianity. The Book of James may have been written as a rebuttal to Paul’s letters and teachings. Some early Christians, especially those in Jerusalem, thought Paul’s message and writings promoted what the Evangelical church of today would call “easy believism.” That is to say, “Just believe in Jesus and you will be saved.” Martin Luther thought the Book of James did not deserve to be canonized, because he found it contradictory to the teachings of Paul.
I personally think the Book of James adds to Paul’s teachings and writings. Having faith in Christ is important to our salvation, and showing our faith, by living a changed life, as James points out, is also an important part of our salvation and testimony.
I love what James wrote in verse 19, “be quick to listen and slow to speak.”
You should compare how much you learn when you listen, to how much you learn when you speak. Our listening is often hampered by thinking about how we will respond when the other person is done speaking. We turn them off and can’t wait till we can straighten them out with our thoughts.
Why is it we can become slow to grow angry with persons of equal or greater authority? But those closest to us are the recipients of our wrath quite frequently. Obviously we can control our anger, but we are selective in the benefactors of our control.
If we “talk the talk, but don’t walk the walk” we deceive ourselves. Practicing what Jesus taught is more important than preaching what Jesus taught. Our salvation is ultimately worked out in the way we live our lives. If you don’t live it, you must not believe it. You are on dangerous ground.