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Reflecting on James 1 19-27

We are studying James 1:19-27 for Sunday, August 9, the second in a series of five lessons on the book of James. [Some notes on the text are here.] Here are some questions we might want to discuss in class:

In v19, the author counsels “be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger.” Can we think of an example or two of a situation in which we might need this counsel – that is, where we might otherwise do the opposite – or where we could have used it in the past? How would putting this into practice make/have made a difference? What difference?
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If our anger does not produce God’s righteousness, what does, do we think? What does the author seem to mean by “God’s righteousness”?
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What or who do we understand the author to be telling us to listen to? Or for?Anything in particular? [e.g., does this listening have anything to do with “the implanted word” in v21?]

[Maybe more personal] Are there people or messages we do not listen to at all, or have a very hard time listening to? What are they? Could v19 apply to these, do we think? Why, or why not?
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What do we understand it to mean to “be doers of the word”? What does this include, concretely, do we think? What does it not include?

[More personal] How would we rate ourselves on “doing the word” and “hearing the word”? What issues arise for us when we think about this?
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The word “religion” in vv26 & 27 translates a Greek word that means something like “ceremonial worship.” Would we normally think of “caring for” people as “worship”? Why, or why not? What difference does it make if we do think of it that way? Why is that, do we think?

Do we normally think of being “unstained by the world” as “worship”? Why, or why not? What difference would that make?

For that matter, what do we think it means to keep “unstained by the world”? What is included and not included in that? [It might be worth our while to think of all the things we might find in “the world,” and which ones might leave “stains”: Crimes? Things we think of as immoral? What about social or cultural influences? Movies and books? Ideologies, like “liberalism” or “conservatism”? What about ordinary things we do, like shopping or driving a car or having a job … ?] What counts as “stained,” do we think, and what makes us think that?

[Maybe more challenging] What does thinking of worship this way lead us to think about God? Does that reinforce what we already thought about God, or does it change our ideas about God in any way? How?
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