I have many physical quirks about me. As I get older, new quirks are being discovered. I no longer make fun of men who have hair that comes out of their nose or ears because I have discovered the same problem in my own mirror. For me, it also involves rebellious eyebrow hairs that go wild as well. But one of my most unique quirks that I must admit to is the large buildup of wax that I get in my ears. It is so bad that at least three times a year I have to go to my doctor and let him clean out my ears. I always know when it is time for this procedure because my ears begin to plug up, and I don’t hear as clearly as I know I should. I think my doctor enjoys it. Even he becomes amazed at the amount and the size of the wax that comes out of these cute little ears of mine.
When I used this example in church a few weeks ago, one clever person told me that it sounded like I needed a “waxative.” However, there were many other men in the church with bad ear wax build-up who came out of the closet as a result. I guess I’m not the only one with this waxy quirk. But the good news to such a personal problem of mine is that it is a perfect illustration of a Biblical truth. I know the illustration was gross but at least I did not take my wife’s advice and use pieces of tootsie roll as a visual experience.
In James 1, we are instructed on how we are to approach the Word of God. James tells us to be quick to hear. In other words we are to be eager to receive the Word and we should expect God to use it to do something in our lives. We should also be slow to speak. This involves leaving our own pre-conceived ideas and opinions at the door and seeing the Bible without running it through the filter of our own thoughts. Finally we are to be slow to anger. We can’t get angry at what God’s Word says, even if it goes contrary to our already pre-conceived ideas, thought and opinions. But them James goes on and says,
“Therefore, putting aside all filthiness . . . ”
James uses many words that are unique to the rest of the New Testament. The word “filthiness” is one of them. In this noun form, it is not used anywhere else in Scripture. James does use the same word in its adjective form in chapter two to describe the dirty clothes of the poor man who enters their assembly and is treated differently than the rich man who also visits. This word is very closely related to another term that refers to ear wax that hinders our ability to hear. Now I can relate to this.
James is saying that when we approach the Word we need to first be sure that we have removed all the things of this world that can so easily build up in our lives and hinder our ability to hear God, sometimes without our even realizing it’s effect. I’m not talking about hearing the audible voice of God. I mean the ability to sense the Spirit of God’s prompting in our hearts through the Word of God as we read it, study it, and hear it preached. James finishes his thoughts by saying that we should also put aside the abundance of deliberate and pre-determined sins that are part of our lives and in humility we should then receive the Word. But it all begins with a spiritual “waxative.”