When I first read the verses I want to talk about today, I wasn't sure what God wanted me to say about them. These were the original words that I read:
"Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry." (James 1:19NLT)
And then silence was happening in my brain. So I talked to God about it. "What do you want me to say about this? What needs to be heard within these lines?" I turned to The Message next, hoping it would guide me toward my answer:
"Post this at all the intersections, dear friends: Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear." (James 1:19MSG)
We are actually getting somewhere good. I know where we're headed now. I have to take this one step further. Let's look at the KEERV- the Kristi Expanded and Extremely Revised Version:
"Listen up, everyone! Make sure you tweet this and share, share, share all over Facebook! I want to see tons of hearts on your Instagram posts about this one and maybe a person wearing a fake tiger face on Snap Chat saying these words. Or a unicorn! Is there a unicorn? Because I love unicorns...Use your ears- those beautiful things that Jesus gave you on the sides of your face to listen to each other. If you MUST respond, then use that tongue in a gentle manner. Anger should be the last thing on your mind cuz ain't nobody got time for that nonsense."
When I'm saying this, you need to picture a tour guide Kristi in a goofy Hawaiian shirt and very large hat with a megaphone, except that instead of Hawaiian flowers I think I shall wear unicorns in bikinis on my shirt because this is my imagination and I can wear what I want in my own brain. I am also wearing gigantic sunglasses that actually look good on my face. Since we are imagining things, let's make them all good, right? Right.
We are so very good at running our mouths, often via our fingertips on social media. But what would happen if we followed God's advice through James on this one? What if, instead of overreacting and freaking out all over social media about the latest crazy thing to happen ("dead gorilla? How could they?" followed by "kill the alligators in FL!," anyone?), we were quicker to listen? How about if instead of spewing hatred and anger through our fingers anonymously over the internet, we pray about our responses and wait for God to guide us to the one he'd have us share? Do you think that maybe then we might all get along a little better, understand one another more, and represent Jesus better in this world?
Let's read on in The Message, because I'm feeling it for that translation today:
"Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear!" (James 1:22-23a)
And the KEERV:
"Spewing word vomit all over your computer screen and anyone within earshot is NOT the same thing as actually getting off your butt and doing something about that which you are whining and complaining! Follow the stellar advice given on the 2003 movie-gem, 'Robots' and 'See a need? Fill a need!'"
Social media, people! I love it as much as the next guy...maybe more because I think I may possibly be slightly addicted to it but that is a different post. Social Media gives us this feeling of actually accomplishing something when really, we are doing nothing. Sharing a post about a family who needs meals is not giving them a meal. Liking an article or tweeting your reaction to it isn't the same as sitting down and emailing your state representative about the big issue at hand. "Let me know if you need anything!" on your best friend's post about The Great Vomit of 2016 is not the same as showing up with a gas mask and clorox wipes to help clean up the nastiness.
James is calling us to action here. Show your faith to the world! Don't sit back and keep it bottled up inside of you. Actually demonstrate the love that so generously saved you on that cross. And just so you know, I'm not just talking to you. Jesus is talking to me on this one too. It's super easy for me insert a frowning emoji with the pat answer "praying!" when I see a sad post. I have no problems sharing that meal request or the donation request from Gofundme because it costs me nothing but a few seconds of my time. The real game changer happens when I actually ACT on my faith and help others physically. I don't do it enough and I'm guessing you don't either.
"But whoever catches a glimpse of the revealed counsel of God—the free life!—even out of the corner of his eye, and sticks with it, is no distracted scatterbrain but a man or woman of action. That person will find delight and affirmation in the action." (James 1:25)
Seriously bad transition here, but this verse is mostly here because a)I feel like Jesus wants me to talk about it and b)how do you skip a verse that says you are "no distracted scatterbrain" when you respond to needs with action? I am actually quite the guilty distracted scatterbrain here lately but I don't want to be. I am going to assume that you don't want to be either. So let's do this together: Talk to Jesus about how you can serve somewhere and then jump in with both feet. Get out there and help people out. Babysit the neighbor's kid. Bring a meal to that sick friend. Make dinner even if it's not your turn (do people do this?). Collect and then deliver food donations to your local food bank. Whatever you do, do it now while you're thinking about it. James is calling us to act out our faith here. Let's do that!