Scripture: James 1:19-21 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. (20) God's righteousness doesn't grow from human anger. (21) So throw all spoiled virtue and cancerous evil in the garbage. In simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation-garden of your life. Observation: When we talk too much and listen too little, we communicate to others that we think our ideas are much more important than theirs. James wisely advises us to reverse this process. Put a mental stopwatch on your conversations, and keep track of how much you talk and how much you listen. When people talk with you, do they feel that their viewpoints and ideas have value? These verses speak of anger that erupts when our ego is bruised: "I am hurt;" "My opinions are not being heard." When injustice and sin occur, we should become angry because others are being hurt. But we should not become angry when we fail to win an argument or when we feel offended or neglected. Selfish anger never helps anybody. Application: I want to be known as someone who listens before I speak. I want this in my marriage, with my children, in my office, in dealing with problems, gossip I hear, bad news on someone. I could go on and on, but I MUST post at all the intersections of my life to "lead with my ears". I am leading and teaching by how much I listen compared to how much I talk. When I listen first, talk second, then anger will "straggle along in the rear." I want to remember daily that "God's righteousness doesn't grown from human anger." When I allow myself to become angry because I haven't listened properly, then I am allowing God's righteousness to become stunted in my life.
I want, and need, the righteousness of God. So...I must "throw all spoiled virtue and cancerous evil in the garbage." This takes a daily decision to die to sin and temptations in my life. Every single day, I must ask myself, "what have I died to today?" I need to daily take out the "spiritual" garbage of my life. If I don't, then I am allowing my life to become a "dump" that will do nothing but continue to pile up with garbage. After i take out the garbage, I need to let my "Gardner", which is God, to landscape me with the Word. According to what I found on the web, the following shows what the responsibility of a landscaper is:
- Plan, create and maintain landscaped environments, which may include flowers, plants, trees, lawns, fences, decks, patios or water features.
I am so thankful that God has a plan for my life. He wants to bless my life with beauty. If I will allow Him to, He will create joy, fruit, growth, boundaries into my life. This starts by daily spending time in His Word.
- Prepare and spray chemical mixtures using various types of equipment.
As the landscaper of my life, He also wants to protect my life from spiritual "infections." He has given me the Holy Spirit to lead me into all truth, and to guide me away from the infections (sin) that will contaminate my life. He has also given me the precious blood of Jesus to cover me and my family. There are many things that the enemy daily tries to "infect" my life with, but if I allow the master landscaper to help me, I can daily fight off infections.
- Operate powered equipment and hand tools.
There are so many tools that God has given me: His Word, His Spirit, His Blood, His body (church), Praise and Worship, the Name of Jesus. I could go on and on. The Master Landscaper is on my side and truly wants to make a "salvation-garden" in my life.
"Lord, I am reminded today that I must lead with my ears when I am dealing with people. Too often I lead with my mouth and say things without thinking it through and asking you for your help. Please forgive me for the times I have spoken when I should have been listening. I ask you to forgive me for allowing anger to build up my life. I want to daily take out the garbage of my life, and allow You to do the landscaping in my life that I need. I make a commitment to daily spend time in Your Word, and to pray three times a day just like Daniel did. Daniel prospered in a wicked time and land because He was committed to praying to you in the morning, at noon and in the evening. I commit to develop that kind of discipline in my life. I love you Lord, and thank you for what you are bringing about in my life. In Jesus' name, amen!"