Humility Driven Christians (James 1:19-21)

First Baptist Church

“Humility Driven Christians”

(James 1:19-21)

Series: Living the Faith [on screen]

Rev. Matthew C. McCraw, EdD

First Baptist Church, Bartow, Florida

November 19, 2017

Opening Song: “Let the Praises Ring”


Good morning, church.  Please be seated.

We’re so glad that each and every one of you is here today!

My name is Matt McCraw and I’m the pastor here at First Baptist Church of Bartow.

I’m glad to see you all.  If you’re a guest, please take some time to fill out the “What’s Up?” card in the bulletin.  You can drop that off in the offering plate later in the service.  We would love to have a record of your visit with us!

As we come to worship, let’s focus our hearts and minds by turning to the Word of God.

Scripture Reading

Read Philippians 4:6-7

6 Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.



Stand, now, as we continue to sing to our Lord!

(worship through music time)

Introductory Comments:

Well, church, we’re continuing our series through the book of James entitled “Living the Faith.”

This morning we are in James 1:19-21.

This will be a familiar passage for many of us, about a familiar topic in James’ letter: the topic of our speech.

However, today, I’d like to look at this passage from a broader perspective.  One that focuses on a Christian characteristic that is necessary to follow this passage.

Illustration: often during the end of the NCAA football season, sports commentators will begin the discussion about the NFL draft.  The most prominent position on an NFL football team is the quarterback.  Experts will often examine the quarterbacks that are leaving college and are eligible for the draft.  They look at completion percentage, touchdowns versus interceptions, height, weight, hand size, vertical leap, speed; all of these things.  Another category that they always mention is the category of the intangibles.  The intangibles are the things that are often harder to measure.  This would include things like attitude, character, leadership, and teamwork.

Well, in the Christian faith there are things that are easy to measure.  How often do you pray?  How many chapters of your Bible do you read?  How many people did you share your faith with?  And, there are also the intangibles.  Things like love, compassion, leadership, and one that James will talk about today: humility.

James talks to us today about some behaviors in the lives of Christians that require humility.

Let’s look at the passage together.

Read James 1:19-21

19 My dear brothers and sisters, understand this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger, 20 for human anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness. 21 Therefore, ridding yourselves of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent, humbly receive the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

Let’s pray and ask God to guide us.


I’ve entitled this sermon, “Humility Driven Christians.”

Now, upon careful observation, one might say, “Pastor, James barely mentions humility in this passage.”  Well, that’s true, but I think you’ll see that an attitude of humility is required throughout this entire passage.

Humility should drive us in all of this, and we’ll see that in this passage.

We’ll learn first of all, that you should . . .

I. Let humility drive your behavior (v. 19) [on screen]

We notice right away that James speaks affectionately to his readers, calling them, “My dear brothers and sisters.”

These are James’ brothers and sisters in Christ.

James cares for them and wants them to grow in their faith.

This instruction is heartfelt and intended to help the early Jewish believers.

He wants their behavior to model Christlikeness.

Then, James says, “understand this.”  Boy, that should get our attention.

Some other translations say “know this,” or “take note of this.”

James wants his readers to pay attention!  We should pay attention!

He wants them to pay attention to this statement: “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger.”

Let me say boldly that I believe that if we could get this right, we could avoid nearly all conflict as a church.

If we first tried to listen first, if we were careful before we spoke, if we were slow to become angry; so much conflict in churches could be eliminated!

Well, what is required to do all of this?  Humility!

When we are humble, when we think of others more than ourselves, we will speak less, we will listen more, and we will become angry less frequently.

When our behavior is driven by humility, we can have the type of behavior that James is speaking of and the kind that helps us become the believers that God wants us to be.

I love what The Life Application Study Bible says here.  Listen, it says, “When we talk too much and listen too little, we communicate to others that we think our ideas are much more important than theirs.”  When we do that we come from a selfish attitude that is most concerned with ourselves.

I want to give you some practical tips for how to practice this type of behavior that James calls us to:

When speaking to someone:

Listen first.

Don’t try to make your point.

Seek to understand before you are understood.

Quietly and consciously ask yourself, “Am I talking more than I am listening?”

Put down your phone.

Make eye contact.

Ask clarifying questions.

When becoming angry:

Quietly and consciously ask yourself, “Am I becoming angry?”

Quietly and consciously ask yourself, “Is this worth me getting angry?”

Take a breath.

Take a break, if needed.

Seek forgiveness and reconciliation quickly.

Think of the humility of Jesus.

These tips may prove helpful to you in living the life that Jesus wants you to live.

James also says, “everyone,” should do this.  All of us!  None of us are exempt.

It’s important to remember that James is speaking to those that are suffering various kinds of trials.  When we are experiencing trials, it is often more difficult to practice humility.

So, James says that we must be slow to speak, quick to listen, and slow to become angry.  We must be intentional about this, church.  This does not come naturally.  Do it on purpose.

Next, James gives us a really good reason why we should focus on these things.

Look at verse 20:

20 for human anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness.

So, not only must you let humility drive your behavior, but you must also . . .

II. Let humility drive your righteousness (v. 20) [on screen]

James says that human anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness.

Now, just to make a point here, human anger really doesn’t accomplish much at all in terms of something that is beneficial.

Think about it . . .

. . . human anger can agitate.  It can make someone else angry.  It can make the situation worse.

. . . human anger can alienate. It can cause someone to withdraw.  You can lose someone by coming angry.

. . . human anger can humiliate. It can make someone feel terrible about himself or herself.  You can hurt someone by becoming angry.

Anger that is driven by human emotions, rooted in selfishness, does not accomplish the righteous will of God; it does not accomplish what God wants for your life.

Here’s a question for you church: Do you want to do the will of God? (repeat if necessary). If you want to accomplish the will of God, do not be controlled by your anger.

When you are driven by your own emotions, by your own power, according to your own wisdom, you will not accomplish the righteousness of God.

James never once says that human anger is sinful.  He never once says that we shouldn’t get angry.  He never says that human anger is unnatural.  However, he does say that, “human anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness.”  And, he implies that we should not be led by human anger.

Simply put, selfish anger never helps anyone!

We want to let humility drive our behavior; we want to let humility drive our righteousness; and, finally, we want to . . .

III.  Let humility drive your salvation (v. 21) [on screen]

Look at verse 21.

21 Therefore, ridding yourselves of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent, humbly receive the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

James encourages his hearers to shed all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent.

James wants to make it clear that moral filth and evil are not a rare thing; they are prevalent!  They are so prevalent!

James says to get rid of worldliness, get rid of sin, and focus on the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

James is returning to this theme of our humility in Christ being of supreme importance to the believer (as he does in verses 9 and 10).

He also returns to this theme of the word, as he does with “the word of truth” in verse 18.

In verse 18 this word gives us birth and now in verse 21 we see that this word is able to save our souls.

The word of God brings power!

The word of God spoke creation into existence!

The word of God speaks the message of the gospel to the world!

The word of God secures our salvation forever!

It’s the word of God!

We must humbly accept the word of God and live out our salvation with humility.

There’s also an implication here that human anger can become moral filth.  James moves directly from saying not to become angry because human anger doesn’t accomplish the righteousness of God, to saying get rid of moral filth.  It seems to be a natural thought that at times that moral filth could include human anger.

We shouldn’t want any part of that!  We should want to control our anger!

We should want to humbly turn to the word that is within us and let it drive our salvation and our lives as believers.

We can think of it this way, church: we are taking off the evil desire that dwells within our hearts, and we are putting on the humility that is found in our salvation.

Just like when we are working out in the yard and our spouse, or parent, tells us after you’re done we’re going to go out to eat somewhere nice.  We can’t wait to take off the dirty clothes, wash off the dirt and sweat, and put on the nice clothes to go out.

Take off the moral filth, and put on the humility of the gospel.

Concluding Thoughts:

James expects that those who have been changed by Jesus will start to act differently.

Well, have we church?

Have I started to live a different life because Jesus has changed me?

Does your life look differently because Jesus has changed you?

What should we do if our lives don’t match what God calls us to do?  Repent!  Turn from our sin!  Shed the moral filth and turn to the gospel!  Humbly turn to the gospel!

Let humility drive your behavior, let humility drive your righteousness, and let humility drive your salvation.

Whether you’ve been a Christian for 75 years, or you’re still not a follower of Jesus, turn to the gospel and let it change your life!

God has called us to this through the letter that James delivered to the early church, and that the Holy Spirit is delivering to us today.

Well, what is at the heart of this message?

Here’s our bottom line for this week, folks:

Bottom Line: Do not be controlled by selfish behavior; be driven by humble righteousness.


We must be driven by humility, not by selfish human behavior.

For our weekly challenge this week, I’d like for you to consider these three questions:

Weekly Challenge: [on screen]

  1. Ask yourself, “Do I first seek to listen or first seek to speak?”  [on screen]

When you’re in a conversation are you more concerned with being heard, or with hearing the other person?

Are you more concerned about being right, than bringing resolution?

  1. Ask yourself, “Am I quick to become angry?” [on screen]

What does it take to set you off?

When I was a younger man, it didn’t take much to make me angry.

There are so many things that people get angry about that are not worth getting angry over.

Human anger does not accomplish the righteousness of God.

  1. Ask yourself, “What implications does my salvation have for me this week?” [on screen]

We are to shed moral filth and the sin of our past.

How have you changed as a result of your salvation?

Is there something in your life that you still need to change?

Is there something that you need to do this week because of who you are in Jesus?


In just a moment we will sing a song called, “Wherever He Leads, I’ll Go.”  As we do so, I want you to ask yourself, “Where is God leading me?”

Perhaps God is leading you to make a prayer of commitment to Him of some sort.

Maybe God is revealing to you a change that you need to make.

Perhaps God is wanting you to accept the gospel and allow Him to plant the word deep in your heart and life and to follow Him.

(present gospel)

Whatever God is doing in your heart, in just a moment you’ll have an opportunity to respond to Him.

If you would like to come speak to me about your commitment, or you would like me to pray with you, I invite you to come as we sing.

Let’s pray as we prepare to sing.


Sing Invitation Hymn: “Wherever He Leads, I’ll Go.”


Join us tonight for evening worship as we study the second chapter of the book, I Will by Thom Rainer.

(Sing Doxology)

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