“This you know, my beloved brethren. But let everyone be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. Therefore putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls” (James 1:19-21).
The key word in today’s passage is “receive” (James 1:21). Believers are to receive God’s Word. That’s what distinguishes them from unbelievers. Jesus said to a group of religious unbelievers, “Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word. . . . He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God” (John 8:43, 47).
“Hear” in those verses doesn’t refer to hearing with the ear only. Jesus’ audience heard in that sense—even to the point of wanting to kill Him for what He said (v. 59)—but they didn’t receive and obey His words. By rejecting the truth, they proved themselves to be children of the devil, who is the father of lies (v. 44).
Peter called God’s Word the imperishable, living, and abiding seed that brings salvation (1 Peter 1:23). But receiving God’s Word isn’t limited to salvation alone. As a Christian, you have the Word implanted within you. Now you must nurture it by removing the weeds of filthiness and wickedness so it can produce the fruit of righteousness. That isn’t a one-time effort, but a lifestyle of confession, looking into God’s Word, desiring His message, and longing to obey it. That doesn’t mean you’ll be sinlessly perfect, but your life will be marked by ever-increasing spiritual maturity and obedience to the Word. When you are disobedient, you should feel an enormous tension in your spirit until you repent and make things right.
Are you hearing and receiving God’s Word in that way? Do those who know you best see you as a person whose life is governed by biblical principles? Jesus said, “If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine” (John 8:31). Receive His truth and abide in it continually!
Suggestions for Prayer
Ask the Lord to keep you sensitive to His Word in every situation you face today.
For Further Study
Read 1 Thessalonians 2:13-14, noting the Thessalonians’ response to God’s Word.
From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, http://www.crossway.com.