Wk 3 // Big Jim // Maturity in our Faith

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ICEBREAKER

  • What reveals more about a person: actions or words? Why do you say so?

  • Give an example of when you have seen someone’s actions match up with their words. What did that reveal about them? Why was that significant?

INTRODUCTION

A primary emphasis in the book of James is the daily expression of one’s faith in action. Evidently, James was dealing with some who tried to separate being a Christian from demonstrating one’s faith in everyday life.

In this week’s message, Pastor Sean spoke on the importance of being mature in our faith. And practicing mature faith means not only having our own lives be changed, but to also be changing the world by living out our faith in bold ways. In the first chapter, James stressed the vital connection between hearing the Word of God and living it everyday.

SERMON RECAP

Spend a few minutes recapping this week's sermon together. Click here to view the sermon notes.

  • What was one takeaway from this week's sermon for you?

  • Were there any stories, ideas, or points that stuck out?

  • Was there anything that challenged you?

READ

Have a volunteer read James 1:19-21.

  • How are James’s three commands in verse 19 related to one another?

  • What is the root issue James warned his readers against with these commands?

  • What do we communicate to other people when we don’t listen well or talk too much?

  • What happens when these negative traits enter into our relationship with God?

NOTE
Christians can pretend to obey God without truly listening to His commands. The readers of James’s letter knew the transforming power of God’s Word, the gospel. James urged them to demonstrate this change, particularly in their speech. He challenged them to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. We cannot hear God if we remain distracted with resentment, hatred, or vengeful attitudes. Being attentive and obedient to the Scripture and processing it carefully before speaking will curb any tendency toward wrath.

Have a volunteer read James 1:22-25.

  • Why do we often “hear” and not “do” when it comes to Scripture? What does this say about our faith?

  • In what area of your life could you do a better job applying God’s Word rather than just listening to it?

NOTE
James was concerned that believers persevere in living out God’s Word. James maintained that just listening to God’s Word was insufficient. When one hears the Word and does not act on the admonitions contained in it, that person really is engaging in self-deception. Simply listening to the message is not enough. For James, genuine religion and daily life could not be separated. He had little patience with those who claimed to be pious or religious but gave no evidence of inward change by their daily conduct.

During His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught the importance of being doers of the Word of God. Read Matthew 7:24-27.

  • How important is putting the teachings of Scripture into practice, according to Jesus?

  • What do we risk happening when we are hearers only?

Have a volunteer read James 1:26-27.

  • What is genuine religion? How can believers develop a genuine faith that positively affects people around them?

  • What three actions does James identify as evidences of genuine religion in verses 26-27?

  • Why do you think James singled out caring for orphans and widows as an example of faith in action? What do you imagine their plight was in James’s day? What is it like today?

NOTE
True religion expresses itself in loving service and in holy living. Put another way, true religion includes both social ethics and personal ethics. Orphans and widows were some of the most helpless members of society, and by taking care of them the church put God’s Word into practice.

APPLICATION

  • In what area of your life could you do a better job at applying God’s Word rather than merely listening to it? What help do you need from God in this area?

  • What do you spend more time on—your spiritual growth or active ministry? What needs to change for you to have more balance between the two?

  • What impact do personal disciplines such as Bible study, prayer in the Spirit, and remaining obedient have on how you treat others?

  • Why is it such a struggle for us to look beyond ourselves to the hurting and helpless, such as the widows and orphans James mentioned?

PRAYER

Ask God to open your eyes to the opportunities around you to put your faith into action.

Brian Otte