“Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.” — James 1:21.
This verse in the book of James reminds me of a man that would visit our assembly on various Sunday mornings. His clothes were dirty, and the stench from his dirty clothes and body were so foul that it left you with a nauseous feeling.
He made it a habit to sit on the second pew at the front during worship. Many of our partners in the ministry would sit a distance away from him. I could smell the offensive odor while teaching the Word that I didn’t want to open my mouth. The choir could also smell the odor.
Well, what should I do and how do I approach the man to let him know what is happening? I could see that none of the men would allow the Holy Spirit to give them the wisdom to handle the situation. I talked with the Lord about this.
I bought him new clothes, socks, shoes, under clothes, deodorant, cologne, towels, soap, all the necessities. I thought what good would this be if he failed to wash his body? Thank God! God reminded me that there was shower upstairs in the church. Now, I must tell him what he must do! When he would take his shower he would put those filthy, dirty, and stinking clothes on. I had to correct him to dress in his new clothes.
In James 1:21, I want you to look at the words “filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness.” The Greek word for “filthiness” is the word “riparian.” It describes filth that is obnoxiously filthy. This same word is used in James 2:2. In James 1:21, it is given to us a description of believers who have bad attitudes that just flat stinks.
Nothing stinks worse than an attitude of a grumpy, gossiping, and pessimistic believer. In fact, a person with a bad attitude emits such a distasteful aroma that it will literally drive people away from them.
This person has to make the decision to “lay apart all filthiness.” In this case it is not referring to dirty clothes, but the stinking and repulsive attitudes they carry in life. As I watched the man clean up and put on his filthy clothes, I could see, that’s just what many Christians do! They were washed in the blood of Jesus and instead walking in newness of a clean life they reach back to walk in the filth of the old life.
Inwardly, they have changed, but their minds must be renewed to stop their old thinking patterns of bad habits. They still wear those old, filthy attitudes, even though those negative attitudes are no longer consistent with the clean, new conditions of their inner man.
When James says “lay apart” he is saying you must deliberately lay down, wrong attitudes and then pushing them so far out of range that he isn’t able to reach down to pick them up again. As the man got rid of the old clothes once he was clean, you can and must get rid of your stinking attitude now that you are clean.
The Rev. Kerry Price Sr. is the pastor at Breath of Life Church at Pine Bluff.
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