By Benjamin H. Liles
"Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls" (James 1:21, New King James). What is it James is telling us here? Why should we know this? What kind of man is it James is calling for when it comes to dealing with burdens and trials?
Before I get started here, I want to take the time to thank everyone who has visited over the past two weeks to this site. I took a break to find out what it was God desired of me and I realized He needs me here, to keep bolstering you in your faith, to build you up, and to encourage you in your walks with God. Granted there will be a day when it will be said, "No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity and remember their sins no more" (Jeremiah 31:34, Berean Study).
How are we to act and to move on in our faith as it concerns God and towards others? James tells us flat out, "let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls" (James 1:19-21). Why is this so important? If we listen more than we speak as we have two ears and only one mouth, then we stand a chance to fully discern what is going on in another's life.
Think about it this way: "A fool's displeasure is known at once, but whoever ignores an insult is sensible" (Proverbs 12:16, Holman Christian Standard). Solomon is saying, through most of these proverbs that, "A fool, when he keeps silent, is considered wise; When he closes his lips, he is considered" intelligent (Proverbs 17:28, New American Standard). In talking on this, a huge quality needed is for us, as believers in God through the shed blood of Christ Jesus, is that we shut our mouths more and take in what others say. We look wise and intelligent when we think on a matter, and fully think it through.
Here's the whole thing James is saying in the text he's writing about: "So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does" (James 1:19-25, New King James).
When we're completely active in our faith, and not simply hearing, we're doing what James is talking about. We're putting off everything that taints and blemishes or tarnishes us. He is saying, "Lay aside all filthiness and wickedness, receive with gentleness the established word, which is able to save you fully." By doing what God's word is saying we're laying aside all forms of selfishness and self-centeredness. It means we're putting others, everyone's interest, ahead of our own.
The man who is active in his faith, in regards to hearing God's word, will keep on doing God's commands: being slow to speak, being slow to anger, remaining steadfast in faith, and determined to keep on knowing the truth of God. No matter the circumstance of this man's life, he weathers through life's harshest and deadliest of storms fully with his faith intact. Unlike him, the one who forgets what he looks like, according to God's word, simply goes his own way, having not fully heard, he's swift to do a lot of things, he turns this way and that regardless the circumstance and gets upset at the drop of a twig. James is giving us a view between what a stable and thoughtful believer in Jesus Christ looks like, versus that of someone who doesn't really have Christ at all.
the short of it is God commands us to weather through things, alongside Him, working with Him in the word, taking our faith one day at a time, listening intently, walking in that faith of who and what He is, as well as what He does; we simply do what He's telling us by faith and not by what we see. Peter even says, "Since you have purified your souls by obedience to the truth, so that you have a genuine love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from a pure heart" (1 Peter 1:22). These are the true qualities needed of a believer in Him and in the work He's done with us and in us. We are called to be prayed up, remain firmly standing in faith, to be holy, to be pure, and to bring glory and honor to the cause of Jesus Christ. I pray this has blessed and encouraged you today. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.