by Andrew Degraaf
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. -James 1:19-21
You have probably heard of the phrase, God gave us 2 ears and 1 mouth, for a reason. I totally hear James saying this in v.19. He is saying here he wants us to spend more time listening and less time speaking.
This is not just talking about listening to each other but this is also about shutting up and listening to God. Instead of telling God what you think, shut up and listen! We need to be more interested in what he has to say then telling him what we think.
I do not apologize for saying that you and I need to make ourselves available to God’s Word. We need to hear it by reading it for ourselves, hearing it preached and hearing it taught. Solomon wrote,
The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge; the ears of the wise seek it out. -Proverbs 18:25
We need to be listening for the Word of God. We need to be listening as if our life depends on it, because it does!
In the front of my Bible I have an inscription that says, “This book will keep you from sin; Sin will keep you from this book.” The TRUTH is the more we allow sin to control our lives, the less we are willing to expose ourselves to God’s Word because we don’t want to be disciplined. We don’t want to be convicted. It’s not pleasant to be confronted with the fact that we are not living up to our potential, so we avoid the subject all together and find ways to miss worship, to bypass my personal time with God and too be busy when Small Groups/Bible study is going on. It is by an act of the will that we choose not to accept the Word of God into our life.
But on the other hand, it is by an act of the will that we position ourselves to accept God’s Word into our life. (v. 21) Notice that James says we must get rid of some things before God’s Word will grow and flourish in our heart. We have to rid ourselves of “moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent.” What James is saying here is that our heart is like a garden, and the things that we plant within it are the kind of fruit that we will bear. You don’t plant potatoes and reap corn. If you want to reap godliness you will never do it if you are sowing ungodliness.
What habits are you sowing in your heart?
Do you lie regularly, or are you scrupulously honest? Do you lean more toward greed or generosity? Have you trained your mind to meditate on God’s Word, or are you more apt to stew over the wrong that someone has done you? Is something draining you of your spiritual vitality so that you can’t imagine what it would feel like to be in a vital, growing relationship with God? James says, “Make a choice to rid your life of that filthy weed and allow God’s Word to grow and prosper in your life.”
I know this is easier said than done, so take a chapter out of my life to help with this … find yourself an accountability partner and ask them to hold you accountable for whatever it is you struggle with — whatever that “moral filth or evil” you have in your life that you want to get rid of. I know we all have to answer to God about our lives, but believe me, if you know that at the end of the week you will have to look someone in the eye and answer for what you’ve done, it will keep you from sin and get you into the book more!
Inventory: According to God’s Word your relationship with Him; What is God saying to you about the things that you are listening too and maybe what you should be listening too? What things have you been accepting in your life and what things should you be accepting in your life?