James 1:21 Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. (NKJV)
James gets on my nerves. He constantly uses words like “all” and “every” which doesn’t leave me any wiggle room or excuses.
In the previous verses we find that sin leads to death. THEREFORE, James commands us:
- Lay aside all filthiness
What is filthiness? No surprise here, it is anything that is less than pure white. It is degree of uncleanness, all dirt… all sin. Lay it aside. Quit doing it. Stop. Throw it away. Get rid of it. I’m trying to think of some twelve dollar definitions and quote-worthy catchy phrases but it’s just too simple: get rid of sin.
- Overflow of wickedness
Now this is a little more difficult to understand at first glance. Why would I just get rid of the OVERFLOW of wickedness instead of all of it? Overflow means abundance, that which exceeds the boundaries.
The picture James gives here is like a garden overrun with weeds. The soil is not prepared and optimal for the gardener. In the same way, we are to “weed out” the sin in our lives, cultivating the ground of our heart so that we will be ready to plant God’s Word.
- to receive with meekness the implanted Word
Again, back to our soil analogy. The weeds are removed, the soil is ready, God plants the seed of His Word into our life. What does a seed in good soil do? It grows. it produces. It reproduces. It is useful. It fulfills it’s purpose.
- which able to save your souls.
God’s Word brings God’s Truth. There is salvation in the Truth of God’s Word both in the sense of eternal salvation, and the sense of saving us from wasting our time here on earth and living with no hope or purpose. We receive that Word with MEEKNESS which is the opposite of the anger that James discusses in previous verses that leads not to salvation but to evil.
Get rid of sin. Prepare your heart. Receive the Word. Gain salvation both eternally, and in this life as we redeem our time for God’s glory.
Lord God, help us to get the weeds out of our heart so we will be ready to have the Seed planted by You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
- What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
- What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
- What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?