Where we walk, how we walk, and with whom we walk makes all the difference in our journey and our destination. Walk with Jesus!
Day 21 of 21 Days of Deep
(9) Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out.
I read a lot, including westerns. One of the stories took place in the Louisiana swamps. In it, the hero had grown up there, so he knew his way around. He would always stay on the trail because to step off of it ran the risk of bogs, quicksand and alligators. Some trails were seasonal, and some areas were conditional to the tide, which was hourly.
As we walk with Jesus, we must remember that it is DANGEROUS to get off the trail–even a little bit. The tendency is to wander just a smidge, then a little more, then a little more often, then a little more–until we find ourselves trapped, embarrassed, ashamed, sometimes bloody, and in need of help. Jesus’ words to us as He rescues us are, “O, My little faithless one, why did you doubt?” Matthew 14:31. He doesn’t get angry, He doesn’t shame us, but He DOES allow us to live with the consequences of our actions.
The passage for today is James 1:19-21. It is one of my favorites, but not for the reason you might think. I have a quick fuse that leads to an explosion. This passage is my Go-To along with some fervent prayer. Daily. Sometimes, several times a day.
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.
Verse 19-the lesson: “beloved siblings;” James is talking to his church, his family, and himself. “Take note” means to place high value on what he is about to say. “Everyone” means, well, everyone! We should listen twice as hard as we speak, and drag our feet when it comes to getting angry. Let it be the last resort rather than the first.
verse 20-the reason: It is simply not our place to judge, and that’s what we do when we get angry with someone. NEVER do we have all the information: we don’t know the events leading up nor what is going through a person’s mind. Only God knows the full extent of the situation. Let’s leave the judging up to Him.
verse 21-the process: Moral filth can be what we watch, what we read, what we deem important, or anything that is contrary to the Law of Love that Jesus gave us (John 13:34). It can be a way of thinking, as well. Evil (going our own way) is so prevalent in our world and in us. We need HELP! The LORD gave us His Spirit and His Word. We need to plant His words deeply in our lives.
Consider this: If we speak a natural language and are given the opportunity to be an exchange student in a foreign country with a foreign language, the first thing we would buy is some kind of translation book (it may be electronic). In that book would be a vocabulary of words and phrases, some history and culture, and maybe some tips to help us integrate. The next thing we would need is a guide, someone to help us learn the language and interpret the culture as well as converse with the people. This illustration describes the Bible and the Holy Spirit!
Today, let’s walk close to Him, listening to Him, and allowing Him to help us interpret our circumstances and to guide our moods, responses, and even our words. Being quick to listen to Him, slow to speak rash words, and slow–to the point of stopping–to get angry is a great plan every day.
Dear Lord, I thank You for the mighty work you are doing in me concerning explosive anger. From the day You called me to learn gentleness (20+ years ago), You have worked hard with me to internalize this passage. I am COMPLETELY dependent on You for success. I pray that others will see the benefit of this passage and call on You to bring it to bear in their lives, as well, learning to be completely dependent on You as I do–and am still learning. You have deemed us worthy; may we live lives worthy of the calling we have received. Amen.