Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. – James 1:21
When we read a verse like the one above, the tendency is to think of what we call the “bad” characteristics of our lives – our struggles, our shortcomings, our sins. Certainly, this is true, but as I read the word “filthiness” I was reminded of this verse from Isaiah 64:6 –
We are all infected and impure with sin.
When we display our righteous deeds,
they are nothing but filthy rags.
Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall,
and our sins sweep us away like the wind.
Those are not just words from an ancient document. They express the condition of the human soul without God.
On my best day, I still fail to measure up to God’s standard no matter how trustworthy, faithful, or moral I am on my own. It’s not a pretty thought, but I am infected and impure. And, on my own, I will be swept away like a pile of autumn leaves. So, let’s consider what James is saying to each of us.
- When we put off filthiness and wickedness, he is telling me (and you) of our need of God’s mercy in our lives.
- Receiving the implanted word with “meekness” reminds us that our response to God’s mercy is one of submitting to His word in every area of our lives.