James 1:19–21 NIV My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness 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.
D’Ann and I recently adopted a wonderful dog named Maddie. In her first two weeks with us, we gave her five baths, trimmed her hair, and removed grass burrs from her. No matter how hard we try, she will not stay clean. No matter what I do, she is never completely clean. After I give her a bath, Maddie will roll around on the rug trying to get dry. She stirs up dust and gets dirtier.
Notice in verse 21 that evil is prevalent. It is common. No matter how hard we try in this life, we can not completely get rid of the presence of evil in our lives or in the world around us There is nothing new under the sun according to the writer of Ecclesiastes. Ancient Israel and then the church had to oppose widespread evil and wickedness.
James instructs us to take no prisoners and to fight with all of our might against evil. We are not to compare ourselves with others. We should not rationalize our wickedness. There is no excuse for sin. We cannot blame our own shortcomings on our cultures, families, personalities, incomes, or ignorance. The buck stops with us. No one can hide from God, and the Lord sees through our justifications.
Paul agrees with James on how to deal with evil.
Colossians 3:5 NIV Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.
Ephesians 5:11-12 NIV Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret.
We are also to humbly accept the word planted in us. We are not the answer. We do not overcome evil through our own goodness, intelligence, or strength. In a world that worships celebrities and wealth, humility is often not seen as a virtue. However, it is the first step to acknowledging that we need Jesus, our Lord and Savior. We need the Holy Spirit and Scripture. The Devil does not fear us, but Satan cannot overcome the power of Jesus, the Son of God.
The word is planted in us. It is planted and allowed to grow like a seed planted in the ground. We are to humbly accept the gospel of Jesus Christ. As we mature in Christ, sin has less and less of a hold over us. As we meditate on Scripture we gain insight and wisdom.
Hebrews 4:12 NIV For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 NIV All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
Prayer: Lord, having opened my eyes to wonder and reminded me of the sufficiency of grace, produce genuine change in my life. Father allow the seeds from Scripture to bear real, noticeable fruit in tangible acts of sacrificial love for others. In the holy name of Jesus we pray, amen. 1
- Mathis, David, Four Prayers for Bible Reading