Being hearers and doers of the word – James 1.17-27

Here are the notes from my sermon on Sunday!


Today beginning series of sermons focussed on letter of James
– only a short letter, encourage you to sit and read it in one sitting
– less than 4 pages in my Bible

– brother of Jesus
– initially not believe in Christ but life transformed by meeting with risen Christ
– describes himself at ‘a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ’ in opening verse of letter
– leader of the church in Jerusalem

letter of James
– written c15 yrs after death of Jesus
– written from Jerusalem – city in religious and political turmoil – Christians a persecuted minority
– written to Jewish Christians – those living in Jerusalem – those living further afield – Jews from many nations became Christians at Pentecost and returned home to share good news with neighbours

James writing to early Church but message just as impt for us today
– heart of message: Living faith – not enough just to believe facts re Jesus – true faith involves relationship with Jesus – true faith involves wholehearted and genuine trust in Jesus – true faith will be seen in lives that are transformed

Good news!

Reading today began with the amazing good news that ‘In his goodness God chose to make us his own children by giving us his true word. And we out of all creation became his choice possession’ (1.18 NLT)

God chosen to give us Jesus so we can have relationship with him

rest of reading James speaks about:
– our response to this good news
– how to live out our faith
– be hearers of word and then doers of word

James clear

Gospel we have been given is a precious gift – Jesus parable – belonging to the Kingdom of God is more valuable than most beautiful pearl in all world

not enough to receive it – need to respond to it – be changed by it – do something about it

Coffee pot from Matt – not given it as ornament – only fulfilling purpose if I use it to make coffee – delicious coffee!

healing of back – deteriorating – pain – crippling – God healed me –
– no good knowing healed – got to live as if healed
– get rid of stick – start sitting down – put tights on properly etc

we’ve been healed by Gospel
– our relationship with God which was broken by sin has been restored by Jesus on the Cross
– should make a difference to how we live.

2 steps for followers of Christ – Listen then obey


James compares word of God to mirror
– Jesus came to show us how to live a perfect life
– characterised by resisting temptation – does not give in to Satan’s jibes but remains faithful to God in wilderness – love for God – led to obedience to God’s will even when costly – eg. Gethsemane – love for people – all he met (rich or poor, male or female, Jew or Gentile, sick or well) – sacrificial love (ultimately cross)
– we were created in image of God and to reflect his glory
– word of God reveals this perfect life to us and ways in which we fall short

so important that we listen to word of God and study it so we can see who we truly are and what needs to be changed to make us more Christ like

do not need to be afraid to look steadily in mirror of God’s word because we
– saved by grace
– freed from sins control
– empowered by HS to change

So need to listen to word and study it and know it well so we know what filth and evil is in our lives which we need to get rid of


Jesus said ‘If you love me, obey my commandments’ (John 14.15)

when look in mirror and see dirt on our faces not normally ignore it but do something about it – only point in looking in mirror is if going to do something about what we see.

‘Therefore rid yourselves of all sordidness and rank growth of wickedness, and welcome with meekness the implanted word that has the power to save your souls.’ (1.21)

Get rid of – word for stripping off dirty clothing – strip off old clothing of sin and put on Christ

filth – word connected with word used for wax in ear – get rid of everything that stops our ears to true word of God – sins can make us deaf to God – things we do can make us deaf to God – what do you fill your life with?

refuse to let the world corrupt us- world tells us life is about money, power and pleasure – we are the most important people – our happiness is what matters – we deserve it

God tells life is about loving him and loving our neighbours – that Jesus came to turn the world upside down so that the first become last – that salvation is in a cross

Parable of Sower
– Seed which is the word of God sown liberally – lands on different types of soil
footpath – eaten by birds
shallow soil – grow quickly but no roots so quickly wither
thorns – choked
fertile soil – produce enormous crop

God wants us to be good soil – plant word in our hearts – let it grow – let it bear fruit


Impt to understand that not do good deeds to earn out salvation

reading from Mark
– not unclean because of what is on the outside but what is on the inside
– may be able to wash ourselves clean on outside but only Jesus can help us to clean us up on the inside
– what Jewish leaders failed to understand – and we so often fall into same hole is that there is nothing we can do to win God’s approval – nothing we can do to make him love us more – nothing we can do to make ourselves worthy of him
– fruit comes when as a result of the seed growing
– in parable fruit comes as result of hearing the word and letting it flourish
– good works are not a way of increasing our faith or earning God’s love
– but true faith will be seen by what we do

Be Doers

James ever practical – two ways in which we can be good soil – be doers

Doers in our speech
Doers in our actions


‘You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.’

need to control our tongues
-words are powerful things can do good or bad
– encourage and build up – e.g Andy Murray’s game at Wimbledon transformed when crowd got behind him
– gossip and complaining drag down – To Kill a Mockingbird – Mrs Crawford’s gossip about Boo Radley that leads to community labelling him as crazy and children like Jem and Scout being afraid of him
– Proverbs: ‘Death and life are in the power of the tongue’ (18.21)for ‘Rash words are like sword thrusts’ whereas ‘Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body’ (16.24).

think about what say but also when
– when talk too much and listen too little telling others that our ideas are more important than theirs
– Zeno of Elea ‘We have 2 ears but only 1 mouth, that we may hear more and speak less’

– right to be angry sometimes e.g. Jesus so angry turned tables over in Temple
– should be angry when others hurt  or see injustice
-not when our egos bruised, when we fail to win an argument or feel offended and neglected – then ‘ your anger does not produce God’s righteousness’


‘Religion that is pure and undefiled before God’ be seen in how we live our daily lives

– true faith be demonstrated in all situations and circumstances we find ourselves in – our love for God and therefore our neighbour be seen in what we say and do at work, home, community, church
– love for God and love for neighbour result in us caring for those in need
– widows and orphans – people with least power in Jesus’ day
– help those who are in distress because they are loved by God and not because they can do anything for us
– widows and orphans still need our help but so do homeless, refugees, immigrants etc – all those who world considers worthless – because they are precious to God


Good to come together to worship God this morning and to listen to his word

not enough to talk the talk…we need to walk the walk and let the word transform us

so let’s be doers of the word so that we worship God through our lives outside this building as well as within

We are called to genuine faith in Christ – faith that results in changed lives. So James asks us today how deep is our faith? Do we know a lot about God or do we know him as our loving heavenly Father?

Let us be people who really hear the truth and then do it for ‘those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act—they will be blessed in their doing’. Amen.


This entry was posted in Sermons. Bookmark the permalink.