“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
I have been studying through the book of James with my Bible Fellowship Group for a couple of months. My friend and I, who I co-teach with, have been blown away with the reality that we have never read through the book of James with good understanding. Mainly because we’ve never read through the whole book over and over like we have as we have studied to teach these past months. We have been challenged as we have had our own sins revealed and we have been encouraged to remember the mercy of God. Every time I am in His Word, I am more convinced of this, I am a bigger sinner than I think and He is more gracious than I could ever imagine. His word is true and it’s the only way to gauge truth.
In my study, James 1:21 has tremendously changed my understanding of the book. In the previous verses, James tells me that I should be quick to hear the Word, slow to speak and argue with the Word. He tells me that not only do I need to hear the word, but I need to receive the word with meekness. “Receive with meekness the implanted word which is able to save your souls.” I love the language that James uses of the implanted word.
Implanted. I don’t know if any of you have ever done any gardening. I hadn’t until a few years ago either. Since we live in a subdivision, we have a tiny little area in which to have a garden. We (my kids and I) have tried planting a couple of different things over the years, but basically, it’s become what I like to refer to as a “salsa garden”. It consists of tomatoes and peppers to eat and make salsa. My husband loves anything hot, so I grow him some really hot ones. My friend gave us some Marigold seeds that first year we planted. So every Fall, my girls take the dried up plants and pull out the seeds. We save them and in the Spring plant them again. The bright yellow flowers are a beautiful reminder of our Father’s great care for us in the generations of life.
So the word, implanted, really means something different to me in recent years having actually planted something.
Every year before planting, I have to do a couple of things to my garden area. One is to clear out all the debris. We often have rocks, leftover dead plants, leaves, etc. that have to be removed. (And this year…rabbits. But I’ll not chase them here.) I think that’s what James had in mind as he said, “put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness”. We have to clear out the garden of our heart. We have to put away our worldly way of thinking before the Word can take root. Like Paul, James appeals to holy living, not perfect, but holy. Set apart. Cleared out. (Rom. 12:1-2).
The other thing that has to been done is breaking up the hard soil that has been trampled on, pushed down, rained and snowed on all winter. It is literally, hard as a rock. Hard. Like my heart. But James tells us to receive the Word into our hearts with meekness.
Have you ever thought of the humble position of the ground, of dirt? Think of all the things that the ground beneath your feet is, does and how it’s used. But in the state of its natural humble position, it is not useful until it is subjected to more humility. It has to be totally cleared out, broken up and fertilized before a seed or young plant can be received. It has to be humble. Meek. That seed or young plant has to be received by the soil with meekness to take root. Yes, the soil is useful and essential to life, but only when it has been humbled, cleared out and broken. Much like James says the condition of my heart must be in for the Word to take root.
As I was thinking about James’ words this week in preparation to teach, the meaning of a parable that Jesus taught was filled full in my mind as it never had been before. A very familiar parable to me, but clarified some more through James’ letter.
And when his disciples asked him what this parable meant, he said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that ‘seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.’ Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.
I can hear the echo of my Lord’s words through James’ words. His brother and his Lord. How much humility must James have had to learn to be able to receive and understand the Word that he had been taught since he was a boy. And to realize the One he had known his whole life is the One that has existed from the beginning.
May we, like James, approach the word with meekness.
So y’all, here’s my prayer for us. That we would prepare our hearts for His word. That our hearts would be meek and humble like the “good soil”. That our hearts would “hold fast” to his word. And that the garden of our hearts would “bear fruit with patience.”
I know this, neither one of my gardens will bear any fruit without the mercy of God and because of His mercy my soul is saved.