What Difference Does It Make?

Title: What Difference Does It Make?

Bible Book: James 1 : 19-27

Author: Jackie Kay

Subject: Bible; Word of God; Christian Living



For those of us who love the Word and believe the Word, the question is, "What difference does it make in our lives?" Having been brought to life by the Word, a genuine faith will rightly relate to that Word and be shaped by the Word. The Word is pictured as a seed (v. 21), a mirror (v.23), and as the law of liberty (v.25). Please note...

I. The Believer’s Reaction To The Word

Verses 19-20

We cannot be neutral when it comes to our response to God’s Word. This is a call to conform to the Scripture. Please note...

A. The Relationship Shared

Verse 19a, "My beloved brethren..."

This is the appeal of a brother. This is not a condescending command but a compassionate appeal. "Wherefore" suggests that there was a problem with inappropriate displays of anger among the brethren.

B. The Response Sought

Verse 19b, "be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath…"

Be teachable, patient, and under control, i.e., "deliberate, persistent." These adjectives describe the attitude as much as the action.

"Swift to hear"-The New Testament was not yet fully recorded so believers were dependant on traveling missionaries and local teachers. To listen eagerly was the first duty of discipleship.

"Slow to speak"- This is a call for restraint upon hastily and ill-considered reactions to what is heard. Dialogue was common in these early assemblies. This was a safeguard against shallow, immature, and immoderate reactions to the teaching of the Word.

"Slow to wrath"- Intemperate religious zeal can become anger toward those with whom we differ in opinion. This has been called the "wrath of argumentation". Orge suggests a deliberate, persistent attitude of hostility. There is no place for a mean, combative spirit in the believer’s life.

C. The Reason Stated

Verse 20, "For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God."

Man’s carnal reaction to life’s problems does not bring glory to God. Human anger may prevent you from receiving the truth of the Word. What difference does the Word make when it comes to how you display your temper? James appeals for...

II. The Believer’s Reception Of The Word

Verse 21, Please note...

A. The Sin Rejected

Verse 21, "Wherefore (for this reason), lay apart all (God is never satisfied with partial purity) filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness…"

1. "Filthiness"

Moral uncleanness and impurity

2. "Overflowing wickedness"

Malice, ill will, malignity...The attitude of mind that desires to injure others. James then turns to the positive with an appeal regarding...

B. The Seed Received

Verse 21b, "…and receive with meekness the engrafted word…"

This is a picture of planting seed in fertile soil. The aorist imperative of "receive" indicates that this is more than receiving, it is "welcoming", i.e., the receptivity of a teachable spirit. "Meekness" is an inner disposition of gentleness and considerateness". The "engrafted Word" occurs only here in the New Testament. The nature of the Word is to root itself in the soil of the believing heart. James reminds his readers of the delivering power of the Word with…

C. The Salvation Reviewed

Verse 21c, "…which is able to save your souls." The present tense of "to save" suggests that this deliverance is a process, i.e., The Word can continually deliver you from the power of sin as it has delivered you from the penalty of sin. James appeals for a...

III. The Response To The Word

Verses 22-27. He emphasizes…

A. The Need For Obedience

Verses 22-25

1. The Need Is Declared

Verse 22

"de" ("but") is not adversitive, but continuative indicating that something further must be said and done.

"Be ye doers…" is present imperative…

"...not hearers only…"; It was common among the Greeks for public readings/lectures to be attended by those who were not followers of the lecturer and felt no compulsion to follow his directives

2. The Need Is Depicted

Verses 23-25

In verses 23 and 24 the need is depicted negatively i.e., the need is seen, as in a mirror, but there is a habit, a lifestyle, a pattern of turning away with no changes.

In verse 25 the need is depicted positively, i.e., a penetrating look into the Word that moves the believer to make the necessary adjustments to his lifestyle. "The law of liberty" is that authoritative body of truth that is the foundation of the Christian faith. When obeyed the law produces freedom. James then focuses on…

B. The Nature Of Obedience

Verses 26-27

"If any among you seem to be religious" is a first class conditional clause suggesting such an individual and practice existed. "Religious" occurs only here in the New Testament and signifies a relationship with divine reality. "One of the chief characteristics of self-deception in the Christian life is that believers can make an empty show of religious devotion" (New American Commentary, p. 99). Obedience will manifest itself in…

1. Spirituality in Speech (Conversation)

Verse 26

For example, a faith that does not control the destructive power of the tongue is a futile faith and the person deceives themselves if they think they are spiritual.

2. Sympathy with suffering (Charity)


Verse 27a

For example, caring for those who are hurting...bearing one another’s burdens.

3. Separation from sin (Chastity)

Verse 27b

"...unspotted from the world ," i.e., "pure, chaste, holy". Note: This list is representative, not exhaustive of the difference our faith should make.

Is the Word making a difference in how I live?

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