The Bible and Our World

The North American Christian lives in a culture that sadly isn’t known for its Bible reading. Rather, it’s known for its programs, music, books, and trends. These things aren’t wrong in and of themselves, but they should never be the basis for a Christian’s life.

The basis for a Christian is the Word of God.

The Word of God is where we find the perfect truth of God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It’s where we read the story of the world, us, our rebellion, and then God’s salvation for us through the gospel of His Son Jesus. In considering this, why wouldn’t the Word of God be our first choice in growing as a Christian?

Preparation for Bible Reading

One of the many reasons behind the lack of Bible reading is that we’re not prepared for it. James, the half-brother of Jesus, wrote to the 1st Century church:

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. (James 1:19-21)

From this text, we can see six behaviours and actions that better prepare us for reading God’s Word.

1) “Let every person be quick to hear…”

Because of the rise of autonomy in our world, we struggle more and more with listening. We constantly practice being “slow to hear” in our relationships, workplaces, and churches. If our lives are characterized by this, how do you think that will affect your Bible reading?

2) “[Let every person be] slow to speak…”

The opposite of being “slow to hear” is to be “quick to speak.” James addresses this in greater detail in James 3:1-12. The main point is this: your mouth is powerful. What you say is incredibly important. If you don’t agree, read what Jesus says in Matthew 12:36-37. How do you think being “quick to speak” inhibits your Bible reading?

3) “[Let every person be] slow to anger…”

It doesn’t matter if you have a more “natural” inclination to anger or not, this same command applies to all. The reasoning for why James includes this is because “the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” The righteousness of God in this sense is what God wills for His children to be and do. Producing the righteousness of God is one of the outcomes from reading the Bible. So if anger is in complete contrast to this, then that would make sense that we’re called to be people who are “slow to anger.”

4) “Put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness”

We can’t place a foot of trust and faith in the world as well as Christ – it’s either one or the other. That’s why Paul is serious about how we’re to “put away falsehood,” and “put to death therefore what is earthly in you.” (Ephesians 4:25; Colossians 3:5) Many of us are unable to genuinely receive the Word because we’ve already received the world. It’s crucial that we kill off those things in our lives that keep us from having open hearts and minds for His Word.

5) “Receive with meekness”

There are many definitions of meekness, but in this context we can read it as “that temper of spirit in which we accept his dealings with us as good…without disputing.”[1] The world looks down upon the “meek” – those who are gentle and submissive. Our sinful natures repel the characteristic of meekness, yet as servants of Christ, shouldn’t meekness be a priority? Especially when we’re reading His Word, shouldn’t we be gently taking Him at His words and not arguing/questioning everything?

6) “[Know that the Word] is able to save your souls”

We, as Christians, live as those who have been saved, are being saved presently, and will be saved. We’ve been saved by the death and resurrection of Christ, we’re being saved through the Spirit’s work in our lives today, and we’ll finally be saved from all sin and suffering when Christ comes back to take us home. The Word teaches us all about our salvation – past, present, and future. It’s the Word that the Spirit uses to save us – make us more like Christ. Our maturity in faith doesn’t come from solely church programs, music services, books, and community, but from the Word of God.

 

Since the basis for the Christian is the Word of God, be encouraged to go there today. But remember these behaviours/actions that James calls us to. You won’t be perfect in them, definitely not! But you can practice.


[1] Motyer, J. A. The Message of James. Downers Grove, ILL.: InterVasity Press, 1985.

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