Tuesday, June 25, 2013

So Then...

So then, my beloved brethren, let everyman be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
James 1:19-20  (NKJ)
So then indicates we need to understand what was said previously to these verses.
So then, since we understand God is not able to tempt us because temptation comes through our evil desires (vs. 12-15)...So then, since we realize that instead of tempting us God gives us good and perfect gifts like the word of truth - the good news of our salvation (vs. 16-18)...So then, the Holy Spirit will begin a work in us going after those deep places of our hearts which don't give evidence to the righteousness of God.  Remember, out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks (Matt. 12:34); so then, God desires to go after those hidden motives and attitudes.
In these verses James addresses a potentially destructive behavior.  Wrath is an intense anger: rage, fury, ire and madness are words used to describe wrath.  In the killing of his brother Abel, Cain gives a prime example of the nature of all-consuming wrath (Genesis 4:1-15).  It's easy for me to say that I would never kill someone I love; after all, the Ten Commandments clearly states, "Thou shalt not kill."  I, of all people, would never attempt such a thing.  My self-righteousness needs to take a chill-pill.  Jesus takes this truth even deeper and suggests that if I have ill-will towards another in my heart, then I'm guilty of murder.  (Read Matthew 5:21,22)
I desire that my life produce the fruit of righteousness; however, I can't make myself righteous...that can only be done by faith through the redemptive work of Christ.  But others can know I am righteous by the fruit which my life produces.  James encourages followers of Christ to be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.  If I walk these out in my daily life, it is indeed evidence of an inner working of the Holy Spirit.

For the next few devotionals we'll take a look at these verses to understand how they can bring practical application to our spirits and our lives.
Application of God's Word:

 1.  Read Matthew 5: 21-22.  Can we be judged guilty of murder, if we have unrighteous anger toward others?

2.  Read Matthew 12:34.  How do our words reveal what is truly in our hearts?  Why is it important for us to allow God to go after those hidden motives and attitudes we have toward others?

3.  "Swift to hear, slow to speak and slow to wrath" - producing the fruit of righteousness - How are these evident of the Holy Spirit's working in our hearts?

Personal Matters:

God loves me so much that He wants to go after those things in my heart which don't glorify Him and don't give evidence of my righteousness in Him.  I do want Him to go to those deep places where some of my motives and attitudes toward others aren't always pure.  To be honest, it's scary to invite the Holy Spirit into those darker places of my heart and give Him permission to mettle.  It really is scary.  But carrying around anger and wrath can be scary too.  I can trust Him to work in all aspects of my life knowing His inner workings will bring healing and peace enabling me to let go of ill-will toward others.  "Swift to hear, slow to speak and slow to wrath" are evidences of His workings in my spirit, producing the fruit of righteousness. 

1 comment:

  1. I am so grateful for the Holy Spirit--the thought of me being left to my own devices when it comes to dark places in my heart is downright scary. Thank you for this beautiful reminder.