From the Pastor’s Desk: Rev. Simon Lee
Dear brothers and sisters of RCAC,
In preparing for the sermon (James 1:19-27) last week, I came across the commentary on the passage by Warren Wiersbe with the title: Quit Kidding Yourself, which I thought was brilliant as it summarized the whole passage so well. I like to recap some of his insight here in this article to share with you all.
The Bible tells us that “The human mind is more deceitful than anything else. It is incurably bad. Who can understand it?” (Jer 17:9, NET) I was struck by the translation that “deceitfulness” is “incurably bad”! James in addressing his Christian readers talks about this deception twice: “deceiving your own selves” (1:22) and “deceiveth his own heart” (1:26) Wiersbe states: “If a Christian sins because Satan deceives him, that is one thing. But if he deceives himself, that is a far more serious matter.”
“Deceiving” is from a verb found here and in Col 2:4, meaning “to cheat or deceive by false reasoning.” “The deception comes from thinking they have done all that is necessary when actually listening to the Word is only the beginning.” (BKC) Sometimes Christians, even those who have been Christians for a long time, can fool themselves that they are walking with God and serving Him, when in fact they may be walking in the ways of sinners and serving themselves (cf. Rev. 3:17). Again, Wiersbe says, “Spiritual reality results from the proper relationship to God through His Word. God’s Word is truth (John 17:17), and if we are rightly related to God’s truth, we cannot be dishonest or hypocritical.” So, the critical question here is are we truly walking with God and guided by His Word. The true follower of God has the following responses towards God’s Word: receiving, practicing and being true to the Word.
- Receiving the Word (19-21)
Drawing from imagery of the Lord’s parable of the sower (Mt 13:1-9, 18-23), James describes the Word as “the message implanted within you” by God Himself, the Word that we should “welcome”, or “receive with meekness.” Often when we have become Christians for a long time, we think that we already know it all. The “seed” is the same, it is the hearts (soils) that are different, either “hard,” “shallow,” “crowded,” or “fruitful.” Today, there are many reason why our hearts are hard, shallow, and crowded, but I believe the most common problem is we are “dull of hearing” (Heb 5:11) because our spiritual life is in fact decaying.
Therefore, James teaches us that if the seed of the Word is to take root in our hearts, we should “be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.” (1:19) Our personal behaviour and interpersonal relationship must reflect this obedience to His Word. I often apply this verse to communication skills which of course are totally applicable, but I was again struck by the reason behind this verse is much much deeper as explained in verse 20: “for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” The goal is ultimately not just building human relationship, but producing lives that reflect the righteousness of God. This also means “put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness.” (1:21)
It is my prayer that we are all hearers as well as doers of the Word. Let’s “Quit kidding ourselves”!
(Next: Don’t deceive yourself: Receiving, practicing, and being true to the Word (II)
Your servant in Christ,
Rev. Simon Lee