Reading through James today, I hit one of my favorite/least favorite passages; James 1:19,20.
“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry, because our anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” I love/hate these verses. They have been transformative in my life, and continue to be something I struggle with everyday. I’ve shared them with other people, and seen God use them to change my friends for years. They are so very, very powerful. If we just consider the order, (listen first, don’t speak, then control your anger), it can save us from a ton of arguments and apologies.
Today, though, I noticed that verse 21 was tied to these verses with a “Therefore…” This means that verses 19 and 20 are true, and because of that, do what verse 21 says so that we can see verses 19 and 20 come true in our lives. What does verse 21 talk about?
“Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.”
Hmmm…. So, I know that everyone SHOULD BE quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. I want to be like that. It’s tough. Since I know I should be that way, and I want to be that way, I need to take action. What is the first action? Make myself quick to listen? Not according to James. The first part is to examine my life for “moral filth” and get rid of it. In doing that, we are trusting Jesus and becoming more like Him. As we become more like Him, He will help us in our desire to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. I still believe that those three things are on us to pursue. But if it isn’t working for us, then we need to ask, what “moral filth” are we letting sit in our hearts and lives? What “prevalent evil” are we harboring, excusing, turning a blind eye towards?
Wow. I hadn’t put those two together before. What movies I watch, what songs I listen to, what people I hang around with, what jokes I tell, what language I use, what thoughts I allow to freely run through my mind, what sites I visit, what I forward on Facebook, what I retweet on Twitter, and what I send to all my friends by text influence whether or not I’ll be able to see verses 19 and 20 become real in my life. Purity matters. It really does.
I think so often we want to separate discipleship from purity. We believe we can do the right things, while allowing stuff to remain in our hearts and lives that is not like Jesus at all. But James says we can’t. It’s all linked together.
Now I REALLY love/hate these verses! There is so much to consider, to evaluate, to throw away in my life. That’s why I’m so grateful for the last part of verse 21, “humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.” Jesus is that Word. He is the one who sets me free.
What are the things that would fall under “moral filth” that you are harboring? How is it affecting your ability to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry today? It’s worth working on, that’s for sure.
As always, I’d love to know your thoughts and feedback.