“. . . take into your souls without pride the word which, being planted there, is able to give you salvation” (James 1:21 Bible in Basic English).
GOD’S WORD, COMMUNICATED TO US IN THE SCRIPTURES, IS EXTREMELY POWERFUL. But in addition to His word, God has also given us freedom. Depending on the choices we make as we respond to the Scriptures, we will become either more receptive or more resistant. So in regard to our dealings with God’s word, James uses the word “receive” — or as some other translations render it, “take into your souls” (BBE), “welcome” (NET), “accept” (NIV), etc. The NIrV aptly paraphrases the entire sentence, “Don’t be too proud to accept the word that is planted in you. It can save you.”
In our approach to God, all of us are hindered by pride. It comes in such subtle shapes and sizes, we may not see it for what it is, but none of us can truthfully say we don’t have any problem with pride. And pride never presents any worse problem for us than when it hinders us from “receiving” God’s word obediently. When we study the Scriptures, if we reject what the text clearly teaches, put up our defenses, or make excuses to convince ourselves that it’s not applicable to us, then the devil need not expend any more effort trying to claim our souls. He has got us already.
As we’ve already seen, whether or not we’re receptive hearers is a matter of choice. If pride is hindering our hearing, we can change that. Doing so will be hard, even with God’s help, but the first step must be our decision to heed James’ advice: “take into your souls without pride the word which, being planted there, is able to give you salvation.” God’s word does not automatically save anyone — it is “able” (that’s the word James uses) to save those willing to receive it. And ultimately, it is by our deeds that we show how receptive we’ve been. As James says, “Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (1:22).
In these days when Bibles are so plentiful, many of us know a good many things about the Scriptures. Indeed, some of us have studied the Scriptures our whole lives. But frankly, out of all we have learned, only a fraction of that has truly been “received.” Today, let’s determine that we will not let pride keep God’s word from pricking our conscience and moving us to greater obedience.
“The Bible was not given for our information but for our transformation” (Dwight L. Moody).