James 1:19-27 New International Version (NIV)
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.
22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.
26 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. 27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
I’m not sure why during the last century the Christian movement divided into the camps of liberals and fundamental/evangelicals. Especially in light of great verses like 27. It is clear throughout the Bible that a social obligation and an inner spiritual fire are both essential. Of course, I understand the history but more deeply the Gospel is pretty clear, when you understand what God has done, the believer is catapulted into the love wake that follows.
In these verses James reminds the devoted that wisdom, joy and real change are possible by understanding the nature of God’s love. He is anxious to grant, powerful to deliver and devoid of any evil intent.
Secondly a life lived in love is slow in speaking and responding in anger and quick to hear the sweet words of truth. Lest the shy be too smug, the author also directs those that hear to follow thru. To do.
A critical self evaluation can be very helpful especially in the light of the self-deceptive inclinations we all share. Check yourself. Is your language and method sweet and positive? Or is it vindictive and venomous? Self-congratulatory? When you hear the Good News are you quick to follow and slow to preach at others?
Anyway, that’s the list I’m working on and through. I’m praying that real joy permeates my life and trust you are too.