18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created. 19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. 21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. 22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. 26 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. 27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
Second, we are to receive the Word:
B. By Repenting – vs 20-21
James reveals that there are many things that can reduce our receptiveness to God’s Word, pride, anger, and a host of other sins that can clog up our hearing. Sin will stop you from hearing God’s heart, we need to get real with God, stop trying to fake it. You can back slide with a Bible under your arm, if you do not receive the Word of God. One of the reasons we struggle to hear is we have wax in our ear, there’s filth in our spiritual ears that is clog up our ears from hearing God. Sometimes there are things that need to be removed before we can receive. Do you remember when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead? He came out of the Grave still wrapped in his grave clothes and Jesus commanded His disciples to unwrap him and let him go. While Lazarus was still bound up in His grave clothes, he wasn’t free, He had life, but he didn’t have liberty. Some of us are still bound up in clothes of death, we have life, but we don’t have liberty. Remember what the prodigal son said when he was in the pig pen, “I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you.” So, he got up left the pig pen and started down the road of repentance and who ran to meet him, the Father. What did the Father do he replaced his pig pen clothes with the best robe. Repentance enables us to receive God’s robe. Some of you are still wearing your old filthy grave clothes. You’re life stinks because you are still holding onto the pig pen. The wax in your ears is keeping you from receiving the Word in your heart. Do you want the Bible to speak to you? Do you want the Bible to be alive to you? Then repent of those sins that are stopping you from hearing God’s heart. What trash needs to be removed so that you can receive God’s truth. Third we receive the Word:
C. By humbling ourselves – vs 21
Hearing has a lot to do with your heart position. Pride prevents us from hearing God’s Word because it causes us to focus on self instead of the Savior. We end up spend our time talking instead of taking in truth. Some of us don’t have a hearing problem we have a humility problem. There is no room for your ego and God’s grace in the same heart. There’s only room for one or the other. Thinking, “I can do it myself” communicates to God that you don’t need Him, and He isn’t important in your life. The opposite of pride is trust in God. Pride causes us to believe that it all depends on us. But trusting God requires us to admit our weaknesses and place our dependence on Him. We may not like it but the pathway that leads us away from pride and into a place of truly trusting God is paved with humility. It’s time we understand that Ego is not our amigo. Just as Jesus taught in Luke 14:11, “those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”You will never really sit and listen to the Lord until you humble your heart before Him. We all struggle with pride, that is why in Romans 12:3 Paul calls us to, “Not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.” Are prideful attitudes and actions keeping you from hearing God’s heart?