James 1:19 – 27
Top of the morning y’all! I hope you had an amazing week of living in God’s peace and joy even if there is a storm brewing. I find in interesting how some of our storms even begin, especially storms in our relationships. I truly believe James wrote verses 19 and 20 specifically for me. It states, “My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.”
So let me ask you this, what provokes your anger? Is it someone talking bad about you? Is it when someone has wronged you? Is it something big like someone stealing thousands from you? Or do you get upset because someone looked at you cross? What do you do when you’re angry? Do you lash out and ask forgiveness later? If at all? Do you close up and listen to angry-themed music? In my life, I believe God has brought me farther than where I use to be concerning my anger. If a person cut me off on the interstate, my horn would have been blaring in your ear even if I was physically ok. And not only was my horn blowing but my fist was waving in the air like I if I could slug you I might be tempted to, but I won’t because I’m a Christian and Christians don’t fight. Oh but I will cut you down in my mind! And I will get angry and allow my blood to boil and I will yell at the next fool who dares to talk to me because I AM ANGRY! GRRR! And 99% of the time, that “fool” who would talk to me next would be someone who I cherish like my poor husband or child. Those words spoken in hot anger cannot be taken back. And for what? Because someone made a mistake and cut me off on the road. It didn’t lead to an accident and everyone is ok, but I was wronged! Yeah, so was Jesus.
Jesus had every right to lash out at mankind. He had it in His power to send the angels to destroy this world and start new, because we screwed up. Instead, He loved us. Oh He got mad alright. He had a holy anger towards those who desecrated the temple. In Matthew 21:12-17 we see that the temple, which is supposed to be holy, has turned into another marketplace. Vendors set up shop to sell animals for sacrifice and would up the prices. The people who came to worship were distracted by this market. And Jesus told them, “My house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a ‘den of robbers.'” See, Jesus got mad for the right reasons. He saw His people being taken advantage of and tore down those things which hindered them. Jesus abided in the Lord and the Lord in Him so in His anger He did not sin.
On a daily basis, what is feeding your Spirit man? Are you in God’s word, feasting on His truth and peace? Or are you only there when you need God? F.Y.I. we need God moment by moment. Just saying. To be in constant communion with the Lord prevent the sinful to invade. Yes, we still sin, but perhaps we would be slower to sin in our anger. Are we allowing angry media, angry people, angry thoughts to feast on our minds and hearts turning them into stone? Or are we submitting ourselves and our anger to the Lord even if it means putting our pride down?
It’s amazing what silence can do in a fight. When a fire doesn’t have any logs, it burns out. When a fight looses a participant because he or she will not allow hurtful words, the fight dies down. Do not sin in anger. Do not say things that you will never be able to take back. Pray that the Holy Spirit will intercede on your behalf. If words need to be said, pray for wisdom as to what to say and HOW to say it. Attitude is a big part on how we respond, and how we respond affects the overall picture.
Thus, James says to “get ride of moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.” BAM! We sin because what goes in comes out. Start feeding yourself in God’s word and watch what the Lord does in and through you. But we fall so hard when we start living for and in the world. So James says, “GET RID OF IT!” Because it will kill. Satan only wants to kill, steal, and destroy us. Kill your dreams, steal your peace, and destroy your walk with God. Don’t give him that opportunity. You want to be angry at someone, he’s a good target. And in that holy anger, respond how Jesus responded in the temple, get rid of the ties that bind you. Jesus came to “seek and save the lost.” He did not stop at being angry at how the devil was deceiving His people; He did something about it all the way to the cross. He talked the talk and He walked the walk.
Go on and read James 22:25. You never know who is watching you when you’re responding to life’s situations. We call ourselves Christians yet we deny that by the way we live. “Actions speak louder than words.” If we talk this talk of “Oh yes, I am a Christian” and ten minutes later act like we never knew Christ, then how does that affect our testimony, our witness. American priest, Brennan Manning, stated: “The single greatest cause of atheism in the world today is Christians, who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, then walk out the door, and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable” This quote I heard as a teenager, but didn’t fully understand it until I was an adult. And I look back on the many many many mistakes I have made and wondered, “During the course of me trying to find who I am in Jesus turn someone away from ever wanting to know Him.” I was nothing more than a Pharisee who knew the Law, but manipulated it to rationalize my own desires and goals. I allowed things in my life that God deemed as vile and disgusting and I would write it off with either the excuse to “ask forgiveness later” or “how bad is it really?”
What harm is it really to read books that depict sexually explicit scenes? The same harm as watching porn. What harm is it to listen to music that fuels desires that are to be held only for a man and his wife? What harm is it to laugh at crude jokes and then repeat them for others to hear? What harm is it to gossip about so and so from somewhere? Where is the harm in pushing God’s boundaries to see how much He’ll really forgive?
I do not believe we should best testing God’s patience. God is a jealous God and He will not be second to anyone. He fought for you! He died for you! And He is in a constant battle to make sure we realize how great and how deep and how wide this love that He has for us really is! He has a right to be jealous for us. I love the song by the David Crowder Band “How He Loves Us.” I catch myself weeping at the words:
“And He is jealous from me, loves like a hurricane, I am a tree
Bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy
When all of a sudden I am unaware of these afflictions
Eclipsed by glory and I realize just how beautiful You are
And how great Your affections are for me
Oh, how He loves, yeah, He loves us
Oh, how He loves us, oh, how He loves us
Oh, how He loves
And we are His portion and He is our prize
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes
If His grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking
And heaven meets earth like an unforeseen kiss
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest
I don’t have time to maintain these regrets
When I think about the way
Oh, how He loves us, oh
Oh, how He loves us, how He loves all
How He loves”
It is a beautiful reality for those who choose to accept it, yet so many times we turn people away because of how we live. We must rid ourselves of all that hinders us from following Him fullheartedly. Do not overlook what might seem trivial. It might be opening the door for other things. Ask the Holy Spirit to analyze your life and bring forth that which needs to be cleansed. Allow yourself to be put through the refiner’s fire. It will hurt, but each time the refiner puts the silver in the fire, he allows the fire to purify the silver. He pulls the silver out of the fire, cleanses the imperfections out, and submits the silver back into the fire. He does this over and over until He sees His reflection in the silver. If you were the silver, what would you look like? Can God see His reflection in your life? In my life?
James ends Chapter One with a brief idea of what we should be doing in verses 26 & 27. And it can sum up today’s reading like this:
1. Watch your tongue. “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.” Our words have the power to speak life and death. Which one is coming out of our mouths?
2. True religion doesn’t happen in the church on Sundays alone. “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
I know we are human and are prone to make mistakes, but that shouldn’t be an excuse to sin. It should be the motivation to seek God more. I know what my life was like without God and I do not ever want to live life like that again. And just as the song quoted earlier says, “I don’t have time to maintain these regrets when I think about the way that He loves us.” Jesus does not want us living in guilt over past sins, but urges us to move closer to Him. As you start your week, before you move any further in this day, I pray you will spend at least five minutes with no interruptions. Just you and God. Ask Him to cleanse that which needs to be cleansed and reveal Himself to you, day by day, moment by moment.
I once again thank you for your word that brings life, not condemnation. Forgive me for putting other things ahead of you and trying to write them off because I know you’ll forgive me. During this week, I pray that my words and actions will glorify you and speak your truth into those around me who are seeking realness in this life. Be over those that are reading this that Your love and grace will cover them. I pray you motivate us all to live more like You. I love you, Lord.
Have a great week!