Learning to Listen to God

Learning to Listen to God

James describes the kind of heart we need in order to profit from studying the Bible. Read His words carefully. “Receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (Jas. 1:21 -22).

Every time we read the Bible, listen to Bible teaching or are studying the word, we must receive it with meekness. Sometimes there are individuals who have great knowledge about the Bible and can readily quote it, but it does not seem to change them. Why? Because they do not receive it with humility. Knowledge of the Bible involves the “head,” but meekness involves the “heart.” When Samuel heard the message of God in the middle of the night, he said, “Speak, Lord, for Your servant hears.”

There is more than meekness involved in Bible study which will change our souls. James uses the expression, “the implanted word.” Jesus’ parable about the sower described what happened to the seed which fell on good soil. Unlike the seed which fell on stony ground which began but “had no root” (Luke 8:13), the roots of the seed on the good soil had depth and produced much fruit. James is not talking about just hearing the words but adds the word “implanted,” showing that the “seed” is far more than knowing the Bible. This seed sinks deep into our hearts. This is why the KJV translates this as “the engrafted word.” Bible study in this passage describes four actions: (1) the hearing of the word; (2) an openness to receive the word; (3) a heart which humbly listens to God—he is humble enough to accept the truth, even when it hurts and condemns; and (4) letting the words sink deeply into us.

Look again at this paragraph in James. It begins with the word “therefore.” This indicates that divine truths had just been uttered and based upon that truth a heavenly conclusion is stated. What had James just said?

James had described a man who so readily charged God with tempting him. James showed this violated the nature of God. Look at verse 19. “So then my brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.” Is it possible that these words which can apply to dealings with others have a primary application to not hastily charge God, but to be swift to hear God, slow to speak before Him and become angry at what He says?

The next time you study the Bible, do not begin your study with a preconceived conclusion you want to use the Bible to prove what you believe. Remember that Solomon said that when we come before Him, “let your words be few” (Ecc. 5:2). Always be swift to hear God. Think about it.


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