You First

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“My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.  Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says.  Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.  But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it – he will be blessed in what he does.

If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.
James 1:19-26

So, my fellow journeymen, this is one meaty passage! Do I write about how anger seems to have taken front seat in our culture as an acceptable reaction to most any situation? Or do I follow Michael Jackson’s Man in the Mirror message, and challenge us to change our ways? Or, maybe I should focus on how entirely challenging it is to remain a true follower of the word, in what we say and how we interact with others, in a world turned upside down morally? I’m exhausted just thinking about the options! And I’m barely into my first cup of joe….

Worthless religion is all around us.  We can look to others and quickly point out two-faced character flaws  and wonder where all the good people have gone?  Jesus however has posed a sobering thought to me over the recent weeks.  It is a simple “You First.”  When I want to throw my hands in the air over raging teen angst and kids who won’t just do what they’re asked…When that “person” cuts me off in traffic with a choice finger…When my partner’s agenda isn’t exactly lined up with mine….When I hold back “righteous” choice words delivered in high volume…Jesus says “You First.”  I am the model He chose to teach my little and big people how to put His word into play – in the toughest situations.  I am the gauge that tempers the anger in my household by how I react to chaos when it comes.  He calls me to stop and consider how He would respond to unreasonable, maddening people.  I breathe, I look up and I choose calm and concise words.  I keep my own choice finger on the wheel.  I choose flexibility and an easy attitude.  That’s on a good day.

We are traveling this messy journey together, good heartedly flawed and sometimes selfishly assertive.  Jesus gets us like a tender father gets his adolescent children, with love and care and understanding.  That’s why He gave us His word…not to restrict us, but to guide us, to encourage us, to grow us into people who truly impact the world for good, starting right in our own homes with the people who are closest to us and who challenge us the most.  My man gave me my own mirror to show me the truth of who I really am, a loved and beautiful example of God’s light.  When I embrace that image – and hold on to it early enough in the morning, I find it easier to respond with grace and love first to those around me, no matter what their approach may be.  The more I practice “You First,” the more I find that calm is closer than I imagined. That is freedom for me, and I seek more of it every day.

Categories: James, Sermon Series


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