October 22, 2016. Walking around Dallas Cowboys Stadium, hopeful yet lost. Tanner and I were enjoying our second date of a country concert, and yet, we were absolutely lost. The excitement for the second date had completely overshadowed the fact that we could not remember where Tanner’s white chevy truck was parked. Tanner had parked his truck, and we could not remember where it was parked. And don’t we do the same thing. We do something and then forget. We read the Word and then forget what we have read.
Friends, we’re just too much like the man James describes at the end of James 1. He tells us in verses 23- 24: “For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like” (James 1:23-24).
But before we consider how we fail to remember God’s Word, how do we receive his Word. Look at James, giving us more of those 54 commands that he promised. He tells us to be “quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” in verse 19. James first tells us that we should: receive God’s Word with humility. Don’t come to the Word with your guard up, like I know what this says which might lead to anger and/or disregard for the Word. Come humble and ready to listen. But don’t we sometimes do the opposite – we come ready to talk and argue about why we don’t have to obey the Scriptures.
Think about instruction in your life. When the doctor gives an aging grandpa instruction, he diligently follows the guidelines to improve his health. When the plumber gives you instructions about your pipes, you don’t try to tell him he is wrong. So too, are we to respond to God’s Word – not slow to listen, quick to speak, and quick to anger – like we might do with other instruction in our lives, but rather with humility, being “quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” in verse 19. For this anger, James says, “does not produce the righteousness of God” (verse 20).
And then in verse 21, James gives us yes, yet another command: “put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness”. So how do we receive the Word? Do you treasure it? Do you read it with arrogance or humility? Do you come to the Word with neediness? If not, what affections of this world do you need to “put away” (verse 21) so that you can grow in your affection for the Word?
And then look again at verses 23-24. James contrasts this kind of man with another man who doesn’t remember the Word. He uses the analogy in verse 24, of a person who looks at his face in the mirror and then can’t identify himself. He forgets what he looks like. James is saying – don’t forget. Remember with intentionality.
As I mentioned earlier, Tanner and I didn’t remember where his truck was parked. We failed to remember with intentionality, and so to, do we often follow the same suite. This command to not forget reminds us of all the times through the redemptive narrative that God tells us to remember. In Deuteronomy 6:4-9, God gave his people his law, before the people go up into the promised land. And then Just a couple of chapters later, God warns his people to not forget his commands and decrees (Deuteronomy 8:10-18).
Friends, we need to remember God’s Word with intentionality. And how do we remember? We memorize. We meditate. Psalm 119:9,11 “How can a young man keep his way pure, by guarding it according to your word….I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” Scripture memory is an essential discipline for every Christian. I know that memorizing Scripture can be difficult, but consider Psalm 19, verse 10 “The Word is more precious than an abundance of pure gold.” So the question is, do we value Scripture? We value our shows, our sports, our songs. We seem to memorize those things we value most. Think about it. Convicting right?
And yet, James gives us some encouragement in verse 25. The last four words of the verse read: “…blessed in his doing” (James 1:25). James is telling us that there is a glorious blessing with the obedience to God’s Word. Joy follows obedience, yet joy is not always present in obedience. For the parents, think of your children. They don’t always have joy in their obedience, but joy follows their obedience. And it’s true for us as well.
May the grace of King Jesus continue to help us to not only be hearers of the Word, but doers of the Word. Let’s not forget and rather intentionally remember, both where we park our cars and the promises of the Word.