Daily Office Readings for Friday of Proper 27: Year 2
AM Psalm 88; PM Psalms 91and 92;
Joel 2:28to3:8; James 1:16to27; Luke 16:1to9
“You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; for your anger does not produce God’s righteousness. Therefore rid yourselves of all sordidness and rank growth of wickedness, and welcome with meekness the implanted word that has the power to save your souls.” (James 1: 19 to 21)
I love reading the letter of James. This James was the brother of our Lord Jesus and later Bishop of Jerusalem. We don’t hear much about him in the Gospel accounts but here he is now sharing his insights and ponderings. The above verses remind me of the words of the prophet Jeremiah as it pertains to the “implanted word.” Jeremiah writes, “But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”(Jeremiah 31:33)
My beloved in the Lord, we, (you and I), already have this implanted word written our hearts. When Jeremiah says, “after those days,” he is speaking of the days after our Lord Jesus comes to be with us (this generation) and shows us just how to live by that same word implanted in us. All we have to do is welcome it with meekness as James says. We must be quick to listen and slow to speak, in person or on social media. And when we do speak, do so from inclusive love. And this inclusive love brings with it a certain amount of discomfort.
The inclusive person professes to be receptive to all persons, even those who disagree. Therein is the discomfort. The exclusive person has no such tolerance. The exclusive person makes it clear that only likeminded people are welcome. That is not who Christ wants Christians to be. Jesus ate at the home of Pharisees and healed people of the household of a centurion. Jesus received those who were his own and reached out to those who were of a different perspective, like Nicodemus.
Jesus listened to the opinion of others rather than becoming angry and asks us to do the same according to his brother James. Is this something you can do? Are you able to really listen to a different point of view without becoming angry? I think we all want the righteousness of God but James informs us that anger does not produce God’s righteousness. Take a pause before you hit the “send button” on your lips or on your keypad. “Therefore rid yourselves of all sordidness and rank growth of wickedness, and welcome with meekness the implanted word that has the power to save your souls.” The word that is already written on your heart.
Let us hear what the Spirit is saying to, and through, the saints of God, and then ponder anew what the Almighty can do. John