Today I woke up wanting to delve into the book of James. Listening to someone read the Word is helpful, thus I turned on audio Bible (a great tool available free online). Here is what stuck out.
(Note: Many verses in James 1 are covered, but I only highlighted the ones that stuck out to me as I listened and read. This is not the entire first chapter of James. If you would like to read the entire chapter 1 of James, click here: James 1)
2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
When I have trials in my life, and I’m tested and it doesn’t feel so favorable in the moment, it is producing steadfastness. Hallelujah, it’s doing something good, because sometimes I want to ignore the trials or try to jump around them. If I don’t have to embrace trials, I don’t want to. Yet, Scripture says, “Count it all joy”. To be honest, I don’t understand this. I don’t usually hear people say, “Yes! I’m going through the fire! I’m so joy-filled!” The response is usually quite different.
What I’ve realized is that I didn’t ask for the trial and wouldn’t have chosen this path; however, I know God is using it for good. I know that I have asked for Him to increase my faith; therefore, if He is allowing a trial to produce faith, I will embrace the means He gives me to answer my own prayer.
Jesus, help me to be faithful through trial and testing. In every season, let me worship you rightly, as You fully deserve. Increase my faith more. May I embrace the means by which I gain faith, which You allow. Amen.
5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
Jesus, give me wisdom. I know I need it. Help me to know how to love and honor you and people well in my daily life. Amen.
12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully-grown brings forth death.
Jesus, give me strength to remain steadfast. I know You are not the one tempting me, so deliver me from temptation. Let me be so obsessed with You and captivated by Your Love that I am not focused on the enemy. Let me be focused on You. Let my mind, soul, Spirit, and body be led by the Holy Spirit. Amen.
19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
Jesus, may I be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger. Make me more like You, Lord. You are beautiful in all of Your ways and I want to be like You.
What stuck out to me in this passage is that the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. It’s interesting that there is a difference distinguished.
OF MAN OF GOD
Anger of man. Righteousness of God.
This does not mean God is righteous and therefore not angry. Neither does it mean man is angry, therefore not righteous. God can be angry and righteous at the same time. Man was created in the image of God and can experience emotions just like God; therefore man can be angry and righteous at the same time, too. God gets mad. He just remains righteous while being angry. If we experience anger and in our anger do not sin, we are like Christ. There’s hope, friends! Humankind can link up with the heart of God and experience righteous anger, as well.
“Be angry and do not sin…” – Ephesians 4:26
“Be angry and do not sin…” This verse tells me that someone can be angry and not sin. That means it is righteous anger. Anger in and of itself is not wrong. Anger is not a sin. It’s what we do with anger, it’s our response to anger, that is often either righteous or unrighteous.
It’s fine to be angry. God does not tell us to not be angry. Anger is an emotion, which can help us identify that something is not right. God has put within us emotions in order that we have a trigger (anger, being one of them) that goes off when we’ve been affected by something or someone. It’s not wrong to be affected. That’s just part of being human. That means our emotions are working. It’s just that we need to choose wisely how we will respond. We need to respond (think wisely and choose to love) rather than react (come back with an out-of-control knee jerk reaction).
“Be angry and do not sin…”
Be angry and DO NOT SIN. I think all of us are learning this at some point or another. It’s hard to be angry and not sin. I can be angry, but I need to control my temper and respond in love. The only way I see that possible is by accessing the power of the Holy Spirit.
God, let me be self-controlled. Holy Spirit, control me. Give me strength and power to be angry and yet not sin.
21 Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
If God gives us a command like the one above, “be angry and do not sin”, we can ask, “how?” As I was asking, “how?”, the Lord gave me insight about the verse following the command.
“Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness”
Here is a command following a command. I can be angry. Got it. I can’t sin. Ok… how do I do that? This next command helps. Jesus says to “put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness”. Even if I don’t understand the correlation between my wicked actions and my anger, God does. If there is filthiness or wickedness in my life, I need to stop. Jesus gives me this command to stop. We may not know what wickedness is still in our lives. We may feel like we have “cleaned house”. If so, it may be good to ask Holy Spirit, “what wickedness have I not recognized in my life that I can get rid of in order to have more of You?”
Once we have put away all filth in our lives, we have more room to receive. It’s just like cleaning out a closet. When we take out 26 pairs of shoes, we have more room for new clothes! It’s the same spiritually. When the Lord purges bad things from us (thought patterns, old habits, actions) He can put new ones in. This is when it gets good, because we can be more like Jesus – more righteous than we were.
What does Jesus want us to have in place of our filth and wickedness? He wants us to have the good stuff.
“…and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.”
The Lord wants us to receive. After having given away the filth and gross things in our lives, the Good Lord doesn’t want to punish us. He doesn’t want to make us feel shamed. He doesn’t want to rub it in our face. He wants us to receive. He is a very good Father, and He is a great Gift Giver!
He wants us to receive. It’s not Him that has the ball in His court this time. It’s us. He has given; we just receive. How awkward is it when someone is giving you a beautifully wrapped gift and you hold the gift out in your hand and they wait, staring at you, not grabbing the gift? Rude!! If we are receiving a gift from someone, we take it. Why? To show we are thankful! Even gifts we aren’t necessarily “thankful” for (those socks we got for Christmas as kids), we still receive. We still try to smile (as kids, completely wearing our lack of excitement on our faces) saying “thank-you” and running off to our other favorite toy.
It’s the same with the Lord. He wants us to receive. He gives us a gift. What do we receive?
“…the implanted word…”
Why do I want to receive this? What does the word do for me?
“…which is able to save your souls…”
When I receive the implanted word, it is able to save my soul. Amen Hallejah!
Jesus, this is what I need. I want your word implanted in me. I completely receive the gift You’ve already given, and I want to receive it meekly. Thank-you for giving me power through your Holy Spirit, and thank-you for saving my soul through Your Word. Amen.
22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.
Lord, make me a doer of Your Word. I don’t want to only hear. I want to be righteous. I want to read Your Word and then be inspired by the Holy Spirit to DO Your Word. I want to be like You. Help me persevere. I want to be blessed by You. Amen.
26 If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
Lord, let me be not religious; instead let me be free. Help me to bridle my tongue, Holy Spirit. Give me more of a heart to visit the orphans and widows. Help me to love them well. May they grow into a spiritual family and know they are no longer without family. May they have wisdom and revelation of being adopted into Your family. Show them Your heart, Father God. Show them You are good. Bless them and heal their wounds through the loving kindness Your family shows them and the way we welcome them in to our lives. Amen.