NASHVILLE (BP) – This weekly Bible study appears in Baptist Press in a partnership with Lifeway Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. Through its Leadership and Adult Publishing team, Lifeway publishes Sunday School curricula and additional resources for all age groups.
This week’s Bible study is adapted from the Bible Studies For Life curriculum.
Bible Passage: James 1:19-27
Discussion Question: What’s a piece of good advice people often ignore?
Food for Thought by Chris James*:
Experts – people who know what they’re talking about – regularly offer sound advice that we regularly ignore.
Mechanics recommend that we change the oil in our cars every so many thousand miles, but we often drive far beyond that before we get around to changing it. Doctors tell us to eat well and exercise regularly to foster good health, but most of us probably disregard this prescription at least some of the time. Dentists ask us to brush and floss our teeth routinely, but few of us look forward to giving him a report of our negligence at the next appointment.
We know a lot of “best practices,” but we do few of them consistently. Knowledge by itself is not enough; we must act on what we know. This principle applies to much more than oil changes, exercise regimens and flossing habits. It also underscores the teaching of Scripture. We don’t read, study or memorize God’s Word just to know it. God expects us to act on and obey what we learn.
Most of us don’t like to be told what to do. Whether it’s a speed limit or doctors’ orders, our natural inclination is to rebuff authority, or at least ignore it. We might get away with that in some areas of life, but we can’t ignore the authority of God’s Word without negative effects.
The book of James has stood as one of the most practical in the New Testament. In his book, James offered practical insight into how to obey Jesus in the real world. James was focused on helping Christ followers connect biblical knowledge with Christ-like living.
In verse 21, James wrote, “Therefore, ridding yourselves of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent, humbly receive the implanted Word, which is able to save your souls.”
Notice two important truths here. First, note the reference to “the implanted Word” (v. 21). The Gospel of Jesus Christ is inseparably linked to His Word. The ability to obey any of God’s Word stems from the Gospel’s power that He implants inside your heart at the moment of salvation. Second, notice that James tells us how to receive the implanted Word. We are to receive it “humbly.” Humility is a posture of the heart where we recognize our need and admit our inadequacy. Humility ultimately submits to another’s authority and lives for the sake of another’s good.
As we embrace the Gospel and the Word of God, we turn from the old way of life. We are to rid ourselves “of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent” (v. 21). This is a picture of what happens when we initially turn away from our old way of living and turn toward Jesus through faith. It goes beyond initial salvation. We are to continually rid ourselves of this evil for the remainder of our lives.
We might ignore the recommendations of experts in many areas of life, but God’s Word is different. God calls us to act on what we discover in His Word so that we can be doers of His Word and not hearers only. We’ll certainly be blessed when we do.
— Chris James is senior pastor of Mill City Church in Lowell, Mass.
Bible Studies for Life
Bible Studies for Life connects the Bible to life for adults, students and kids. Bible Studies for Life helps individuals and groups know God’s Word through trustworthy content, creates biblical community through engaging and conversational group studies, and helps people engage the culture missionally by unpacking what the Bible says about real-life issues. More information can be found on the internet at biblestudiesforlife.com.