Do you ever get upset at yourself because you think you’re not progressing as quickly as you should? Maybe you don’t see your spiritual growth increasing. The answer isn’t found in getting angry about it. At least that’s what James tells us.
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. 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.
It’s unfortunate that many believers think that it’s “spiritual” to have a low opinion of themselves. They either give up on trying to please God, or they become self-righteous Pharisees. The truth is that there’s a better way to deal with our sin nature.
The book of James holds some incredible truths. Unfortunately some of them are “lost in translation”. This is a particularly important verse that should help us in our walk with God.
The problem is that this verse, as translated, can be used as a tool to make believers feel guilty. It sounds like James is telling us that we need to straighten out our lives in order to properly receive the Word of God.
We should all know by now that whenever I try to make myself acceptable to God – I fail. It’s never God’s will that you deal with your faults before you come to Him. He’s the only One with the power needed for victory over our sin.
What’s the solution to all this? It all comes down to the little word and.
Look at the verse above. You’ll see that I highlighted a word in red. The fact is, that word and is not there in the original Greek. That’s why if you read this verse in different translations, half use and, half don’t.
Here’s what I believe that James is saying in this verse. Humbly accepting the Word planted in us is the means by which we remove our sin. That’s how the ongoing work of salvation is accomplished in our lives.
It has nothing to do with me trying harder, or keeping my New Year’s resolutions. I’m not going to please God by strengthening my will power or getting angry at myself. It will only come as I yield to the life-changing power of the Word of God.
Of course, this is what’s taught to us throughout Scripture. Even the Psalmist, David, understood it.
I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
This should be good news to all believers. You might feel like dirt, because of your sin, but dirt is what’s needed for planting the seed. You must humble yourself and admit your condition.
If I have sin that needs correcting, what do I do? I go to the Lord and receive His Word into my heart to let it renew my life.
That’s how lasting change is accomplished in us. Guilt and anger may work for a day. But it’s the power of the Word of God that can perform a permanent change in our lives.
Feel like dirt? Run to God and let Him speak a Word to your heart. That’s where the power is!
Question: How has time with the Lord changed your life?
© Nick Zaccardi 2017