Saturday, July 20, 2013

Licking Our Wounds

Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
James 1:21  (NKJ)
The word "therefore" means we need to consider what has already been written.  Therefore, since wrath doesn't produce the righteousness of God, we should lay aside the evil intentions (filthiness and wickedness) of our hearts.  Sometimes that's easier said than done.  Sometimes we choose to hang on to our wrath, especially if we feel deeply wronged by someone.  Sometimes we enjoy "licking our wounds."  Sometimes, instead of laying aside our bad attitudes, we choose to lay aside the "quick to hear" and "slow to speak" parts and jump right into quick to wrath knowing this does not produce the fruit of righteousness in our lives (see verses 19,20).  What's a soul to do?
Good news!  When we are tempted to embrace our wrath God provides a way for us to escape the temptation (1 Cor. 9:13).  By humbling ourselves, admitting we need help and accepting the help afforded us by using the Logos - the Word of God - we can overcome.  Even Jesus used the Word of God when tempted in the wilderness.  God's Word will help us to lay aside our anger and wrath.
God's Word is living, powerful, active and effective in overcoming whatever it is that is trying to overcome us (Hebrews 4:12).  Not only will God's Word strengthen our spirits enabling us to set aside wrath and offer forgiveness, it will saturate our souls like a soothing balm which can bring healing to those wounds we seemed to enjoy licking in the first place.
(In the next devotional we'll take a closer look at the "implanted word" and the importance of hiding God's Word in our hearts so that it can become a consistently, effective tool when temptation comes our way.)
Application of God's Word:
1.  Read 1 Cor. 9:13.  God will provide a way to escape but you have a part to play in this too.  How important is your willingness?
2.  Read Hebrews 4:12.  In your own words, describe how effective the Word of God has been in your own life.
3.  Sometimes it boils down to asking God to help my want-to.  "Lord, help me to want to lay aside my evil intentions.  Help me to want to offer forgiveness.  Help to me to want to be healed.  I'm not there yet so help my want to."  It's okay to be honest with God, He knows anyway.  It's a starting place for the Holy Spirit to begin the inward work of healing.
4.  God will meet you there with an immediate response on His part even though the process itself may take a while; but He will help you to learn to be "quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to wrath."  He will help you to be able to lay aside those evil intentions.
Personal Matters:
Our niece and her husband (Dawn and Chad) are visiting this weekend.  They brought their pooch with them.  Poor thing.  He showed up with one of those doggie cones around his neck.  He has a nasty, open sore on his backside and it wasn't healing because he kept licking it.  They put the cone around his neck to protect him from licking the wound and infecting it more.  They're also putting some healing salve on the wound which helps to control the itching and burning.  Sound familiar?

I was wondering about the part of James 1:21 where it states  "which [the implanted word] is able to save your souls." After all, only Jesus can truly save our souls.  In this verse Paul isn't talking about salvation through Jesus Christ.  In this verse, the word "save" comes from a Greek word meaning to deliver, protect and heal.  Just like the cone is protecting the pooch, God's Word protects us.  It wraps itself around our wounds and applies a healing salve which will enable us to release the wrath seething within our souls.  It will also protect us from escalating a bad situation and creating more havoc.  It will help us to offer someone else forgiveness in place of wrath.

There is no way I understand what you're facing in this moment nor do I understand the pain which causes you to want to seek wrath on another individual.  I do know God loves you and cares deeply about your wounds and how you are hurting.  He wants to heal you and deliver you from the anguish you are facing.  He wants to protect you from making things worse for yourself.  In this moment, can you at least start with, "Lord, help my want-to."  He's waiting with open arms to comfort and heal.  Will you let Him?  It was  a hard lesson to grasp but I've learned it sure beats licking those nasty wounds over and over again.  

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