James 1:19-21 (NIV) Listening and Doing
19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. 21 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.
Immediately upon reading this passage did you think of a list of moral filth and evil. Oh yeah I gotta stop cussing, smoking, drinking, fornicating, lying, cheating, stealing, over eating, gossiping, being angry, hateful, selfish, self centered, mean...
We want to put bandage on surface problems when there are deeper wounds and issues at the roots. There are structures that we have long ago set in place and we are essentially stuck in our behavioral ruts. Sure you make a stab at changing our "bad" behaviors but life gets busy and stressful and before you know it we have slipped back into the old ways of living.
To change a behavior you have to go to the root structures. You have to look at the unfilled needs that are driving you. You need to get in tune with what and who you were created to be. I gotta say of that takes Jesus. He knows how much we can handle and what things need to be worked on first before other things can be dealt with. All too often in our disfunction we don't have healthy models around us to look to. Everyone around us is struggling with similar issues. Its like the blind trying to lead the blind. We look to the Word like we do the smorgasbord picking and choosing the things that are tasty, and convenient and we walk away stuffed but not really nourished. We become spiritually fat and complacent leaving churches because we wine that we were not getting fed. Really, don't use that excuse to leave a church it just tells everyone that you are too lazy to pick up the spoon and feed yourself. It says loudly and clearly that you where there to be served not to be like Jesus and serve. You would be amazed how much you would grow if you would find a way to use your gifts and talents to serve others.
Here's today's verse from the Message.
James 1:21 (MSG) Act on What You Hear
19-21 Post this at all the intersections, dear friends: Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear. God’s righteousness doesn’t grow from human anger. So throw all spoiled virtue and cancerous evil in the garbage. In simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation-garden of your life.
I like the part that says in simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation-garden of your life. When I think about moral filth I try to examine myself and not point the finger at others who are struggling. Where is my heart deceitful, what areas have I not given over to Jesus. I like how the Message calls moral filth, spoiled virtue. It is the places where we are out of sync from God's plans and purposes for our life. It is taking out the distractions and the stuff that keeps us from doing and being who we were created to be.
So before you leave this post thinking you are ok because no longer smoke, drink or cuss like a sailor, stop and ask the Holy Spirit to show you the spoiled virtue and any evil cancers growing in your life. Ask Him to show you the roots and the structures that keep you stuck in those same old ruts year after year. Ask Him to begin a transforming work in you.
Well I could go on and talk about listening or anger or learning to be slow to speak but this is what flowed out in response to this verse today. So in an effort towards shorter posts I'm going to leave you to the Holy Spirit to address those things that the Lord shows you. I am available for phone and e-mail coaching if you have something you are ready to work on and want weekly support and encouragement.