Welcoming the Word
"Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted Word, which is able to save your souls. But be ye doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the Word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was." James 1:21-24
Do you want to be a successful, vibrant Christian? Then, you must stay in the Word of God. There is power in the Word of God. And the reason so many Christians are anemic is they have never learned to receive the Word of God.
Now, I'm not just talking about casually reading it. The word receive here means not just to reach out and take the Word, but to open your heart and welcome it. I want to tell you three ways James tells us to welcome or receive the Word.
Welcome the Word with Repentance
Once, someone came up to a man and said, "You have a carrot in your ear."
He said, "Huh?"
"You have a carrot in your ear."
"You have a carrot stuck in your ear."
He said, "I can't hear you, I have a carrot in my ear."
Now, it seems that God is trying to tell us there's something wrong with us, but we can't hear Him because the very thing that's wrong with us is keeping us from hearing Him tell us what is wrong with us. (Did you get that?) And we're not going to be able to receive the Word until we take out of our ears that which is stopping up our ears. That's what it means in verse twenty-one when it says, "lay aside all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness."
Do you want the Bible to speak to you, to be alive to you? I know of no way you can do it unless you're willing to repent.
Receive the Word with Readiness
And then verse twenty-one tells us to "receive with meekness the engrafted word." Look at that word meekness. It means "to have a compliant spirit," a spirit ready to obey. If you are meek, you are "teachable, trainable, and controllable."
Do you know why some folks don't really understand the Word of God? Because when God's Word says something, they parade it past the jury of their mind. The Word of God says ABC, and they say, "Let me see...ABC.... Does that sound right? I believe A...but I'm not so sure about B. Yea...C is all right. Well, let me see...what about that B?" And they try to figure it out. They're not teachable.
Receive the Word with Responsiveness
Finally, verse twenty-two instructs us to be "doers of the Word, and not hearers only." Do you know what's wrong with some folks? Listening to sermons! They have a notebook full of sermons, and they feel so good about all their knowledge. But they have no intention of obeying what they hear. They become hearers of the Word without becoming doers.
James gives us a great example of what he's talking about. He says a person who merely hears the Word is like a man who wakes up in the morning — his beard is grown out; his hair is tusseled; he's got bags under his eyes; and he's still got soup on his mustache from last night. He looks in the mirror for a moment and agrees that he needs to put his face in shape. But after a fleeting glance, he goes his way and goes off to work looking like that. He's just like he was — no change. He saw it and forgot it.
Dig into the Word
I believe it was Peter Lord who said, "What we really believe, we live by. The rest is just religious talk." You want me to give you a test so you can see whether or not you're really receiving the Word? Is your knowledge of the Bible making you more like Jesus Christ? That's a simple test.
So many of us have sort of a little Brylcreem type of devotions — a little dab will do you. We read a little or we've got some little book of devotions, and that's it. When will we get the Bible and peer into to it, study it, and let it change our lives? That's where the victory is!