Yesterday, we focused on the importance of being eager hearers of God's word. In addition to this, James also commanded followers of Christ to be slow to speak out against God's word and slow to get upset at the teaching of the Bible.
I'm sorry to say it, but I just can't figure some Christians out on this point. If a person obeys the gospel, then they are a Christian. That is, if they've heard the gospel, believed it, repented of their sins, and been immersed into Christ to be cleansed, then they are a child of God. A Christian is one who has committed himself to a life of service to God! Now, here's the part I can't figure out. If someone is willing to commit himself 100% to God one day, why, when they later come across something in God's word that they don't like, do they then reject it (and consequently, Him)?
Friends, we need to believe that the Bible is God's word, period! We need to consistently and carefully interpret it, and, when we do, we must then accept the conclusions drawn (whether we like them or not)! If the New Testament commands you to do something, then do it; don't make excuses and try to pervert the passage so it teaches something else. If the New Testament commands you to abstain from something, then abstain from it; don't try to stretch God's word and bend it so it justifies what you want it to. Don't be like King Jehoiakim in Jeremiah 36! He became so angry at the reading of God's word that he cut the scroll up as the scribe read it and burned it--as if that changed the truth one bit!
It's the same way with us today! If you don't like what God's word says, ultimately, that's just too bad. Whether you accept it or not, you're still bound to live by it! If you choose not to live by the Bible, then you'll suffer eternal separation from God on the Day of Judgment. Today, we could tear God's word to pieces, we could burn it, we could ignore it, we could get angry at those who preach it to us, but none of that matters because it doesn't change God's truth in the slightest regard!
I've had people get mad at me before because of certain truths I have taught from God's word (regarding proper worship, the sin of denominationalism, the plan of salvation, the only Scriptural reason for divorce, etc). People anger easily for all sorts of reasons, and, when they do, I believe they are disobeying James right here in this verse! I believe that when a person is quick to get angry or speak out against God's word, that they are manifesting an improper attitude! They have the attitude that whatever they want to do and believe is okay, regardless of whether or not God agrees! That is a terrible attitude, but many folks are afflicted with it. There are Christians who think they are their own person, when in fact they should be thinking and living as slaves of God (cf. 1:1)!
May you and I always have the strength to teach the truth firmly yet lovingly, even if some become angry and are quick to lash out against the divine message! May we never fit the description that Paul gave in II Timothy 4:3,4 - "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers: and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables."
Dear listeners, examine your attitude toward God's word--are you quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to wrath? I certainly hope so, for those who are quick to speak out against divine truth and work themselves into a rage are on dangerous ground spiritually, as is explained in the next verse.
"For the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God" (James 1:20). If we're not going to be eager to hear God's word and slow to speak against or get upset at it, then we're not going to be righteous! We're not going to be able to do the right thing in God's eyes if we won't even listen to His word or if we easily anger at what His word tells us.