Verse: James 1:21 (ESV)
Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

If you’ve spent much time in church, or especially if you grew up with a pastor for a dad, you may have heard the quip “When you see a ‘therefore’ in Scripture, you need to stop and see what it’sĀ there for“. While it may be the theological equivalent of a dad joke, it’s not without merit. So, let’s take a look.

In verse 20, James warns us that “the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God”. When we see the next verse begin with ‘Therefore’, we know we can expect some instruction regarding how to avoid falling prey to that warning. James tells us to “put away (other translations: get rid; lay apart; put(ting) aside; rid(ding) yourselves of) all filthiness and rampant wickedness”. The conclusion we can draw here is that those things are going to eventually lead to “the anger of man”. Seems pretty reasonable if you’ve spent any time observing the world around you, doesn’t it? Or maybe you’ve even experienced it firsthand. The image here is of removing these things from yourself as you would remove clothes that have become soiled.

And what are we to do instead then? James has us covered there as well when he says we should “receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls”. In place of meekness, other translations use “humbly” or “in humility”, all concepts that indicate the passive nature of our receiving a gift, rather than taking or earning it. And here, James uses the same Greek word – logos – used in John 1:1 to refer to Christ. So, he’s really reminding his fellow believers, “You already have Christ inside of you. Set aside any resistance to him that is tied to your sinful nature. He is your salvation!” I’m not sure I can think of a better and more necessary thing of which to be reminded.

God, thank you for sending your son, Jesus, to save my soul. Please help me to set aside earthly desires and continue receiving him every day. Amen.

Author: Dave MacDonald