17 Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. 18 In fulfillment of his own purpose he gave us birth by the word of truth, so that we would become a kind of first fruits of his creatures.
19 You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for your anger does not produce God’s righteousness. 21 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.
22 But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. 23 For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves[c] in a mirror; 24 for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like. 25 But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act—they will be blessed in their doing.
26 If any think they are religious, and do not bridle their tongues but deceive their hearts, their religion is worthless. 27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world. – James 1:17-27
On November 9 of this year, Taylor and I will celebrate 5 years of marriage. As we approach this milestone in our relatively young marriage, I’ve been reflecting on how being a husband has revealed a lot about the person I truly am. I’m naturally a pretty private person and, as a minister, I’m always conscious of how I appear to others around me. But, in my married life, all the facades come down and Taylor is able to see me for who I really am deep down. As my interactions with Taylor continue to enlighten me to my own character, I find James’ words in today’s passage all the more necessary for my own spiritual maturation.
I often “get in trouble” with Taylor for being so distracted by unimportant things around me that, although I physically hear what she says, I don’t process it all and, of course, don’t respond appropriately. That’s led me to wonder how often I’m a “hearer” of God’s word but completely fail to be a “doer” of what I’ve heard. I also find myself being quick to speak and become angry with Taylor when the situation is minor and would be much better served by lovingly listening and understanding. As we await the birth of our first child in February, I’m particularly aware of my need to grow in godly patience and care. Finally, James’ call to receive God’s word with “meekness” has struck a deep chord in my soul. It’s very easy to succumb to the temptation (in marriage and all of life) to aggressively pursue our own wants and needs with little regard for others. Christ, though, bids us come and die to ourselves in meekness and humility and find new life in service to God and others. I am grateful for Gary Thomas’s reminder in his book Sacred Marriage that marriage is more about making us holy than it is about making us “happy.” With so many more lessons to learn, I prayerfully look forward to many more years of growing closer to God and Taylor in the holy journey that is marriage!