This coming Sunday morning at MoSt Church, most of our adult classes will study James 1:19-27. We’ll use this phrase to focus our mind on the meaning of this passage: “welcoming your working out of his will and word.” To help you get ready for this encounter with God’s word and our discussion of it, here is the text and twenty questions with which to wrestle.
Know this, my dear brothers and sisters: everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to grow angry. This is because an angry person doesn’t produce God’s righteousness. Therefore, with humility, set aside all moral filth and the growth of wickedness, and welcome the word planted deep inside you—the very word that is able to save you.
You must be doers of the word and not only hearers who mislead themselves. Those who hear but don’t do the word are like those who look at their faces in a mirror. They look at themselves, walk away, and immediately forget what they were like. But there are those who study the perfect law, the law of freedom, and continue to do it. They don’t listen and then forget, but they put it into practice in their lives. They will be blessed in whatever they do.
If those who claim devotion to God don’t control what they say, they mislead themselves. Their devotion is worthless. True devotion, the kind that is pure and faultless before God the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their difficulties and to keep the world from contaminating us. (James 1:19-27 CEB)
1. Build a list of all the contrasts or opposites that you pick up on in this passage.
2. From vs.19-27, list the things in which we often “blow it,” be it by doing wrong or leaving good undone.
3. Brainstorm a list of reasons as to “why” Christians should do the specific things mentioned in vs.19, reasons other than the one specifically mentioned in vs.20.
4. Of the three matters named in vs.19, which would you say you’re best at? Worst at? Why?
5. Given these Christian’s specific tests and temptations (vs.2-18), what sort of moral filth (vs.21), growth in wickedness (vs.21) or reckless speech (vs.26) can you imagine coming out of them? What link might caring for orphans and widows and steering clear of worldly contamination (vs.27b) have as well?
6. “… man’s temper is never the means of achieving God’s true goodness.” (1:20 Phillips) How do Christians sometimes confuse or equate their not-so-righteous anger with doing the right thing by God?
7. What could happen if we did all the good described here (vs.19-27), but did it without “humility” (vs.21)?
8. How is it that the word is able to “save” Christians? (vs.21b)
9. In what ways do we Christians tend to make “big talk,” but are small on delivery? (vs.22-24)
10. What in this text (vs.19-27) says to you that “forgetfulness” (vs.24) is more than “memory lapses?”
11. If someone “studies” the perfect law (vs.25), what are they doing to “welcome the word” (vs.21)?
12. How is it that what we’re bound to – “the perfect law, the law of freedom” (vs.25) – actually frees us up?
13. Aside from verbal encouragement (vs.22-25), what can a church do to help its members turn their beliefs into real action?
14. In your own words, sum up the three things James has warned us about being misled (vs.16-17,22,26)?
15. We live by “law” (vs.25). Given the context, why might it be important to use this specific word, “law?”
16. What are some of the blessings you’ve seen solid Christians enjoy (vs.25b) because they “walk the talk?”
17. What connect do you see between knowing God as our “Father” and what follows that description? (vs.27)
18. “True devotion” consists of much more than the two matters James mentions in vs.27. Given the context of their tests and temptations, why do you suppose James chose these two items to note?
19. Using only this text, what can we do to actively “keep the world from contaminating us?” (vs.27b)
20. What other passages in the Bible come to your mind as you read this passage (vs.19-27)?