Speak for your servant is listening

So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls. But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. James 1:21-22

From the text, James says, “So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives.” The word “filth” means all that defiles us in God’s sight. God gives us this command because when sin remains unchecked it will continue to saturate our lives. When we do not address this problem and not get rid of all the filth, we won’t be able to accept the Word of God. To remain in this condition will lead to emptiness and purposelessness. The Psalmist declared the importance of placing great value in the Word of God for that is what helps us to be overcome by sin. “I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11). James urges his readers to “humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts.” To receive God’s Word means a response with a willingness to obey and apply it to life. It’s the same word Luke used to describe the Bereans’ response to God’s Word: “… they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11). Paul also used the same word to describe the response of the Thessalonians who, when they heard God’s Word, “welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God” (1 Thessalonians 2:13). To humbly receive God’s Word means we are to come to the Word with a soft, gentle, teachable disposition, recognizing the authority of God’s Word and submitting to it.

We are to go on receiving the Word of God in such a way that it becomes more firmly and deeply planted in our lives than ever before. We are to go on opening our hearts to it and welcoming it so that its truth will be transfused and transmitted into our lives. The Lord Jesus Christ told a parable about the effect of welcoming God’s Word to one’s life with the intent to listen and to appropriate it so it will produce the harvest God wants every believer to experience. “Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted! Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand” (Matthew 13:8-9). The challenge then is to listen for it will result to more understanding of God’s Word. “To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge” (Matthew 13:12). When it is time to hear the Word of God, every believer would do well to silently say, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:10).


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