Pick Your Poison
James 1:21 Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
When I was a kid, I drank strawberry shampoo because it smelled so good. In my memory, I got a couple gulps down before I appreciated the horrible taste. I was of course not very bright but I sometimes feel that I have not grown much smarter. I would love to be able to say that shampoo was my worst choice in life. Today, I may not drink everything that smells good, but I still consume that which promises pleasure and delivers poison.
James reminded us that we are what we eat. We are not to fill ourselves with filth and wickedness but rather are to consume, the word of God, which saves us. We cannot eat a diet of donuts and pizza and expect to be trim and fit. We cannot drink poison and expect to be healthy.
In my worst destruction, I was able to look back and see that I had been living on a diet of self for 10 years. I had consumed poison and was reaping the consequences. I realized the bitter truth that I cannot live on garbage and expect to be clean. If I want to be something or somewhere tomorrow, I have to take the steps today that will produce the desired effect.
God does not instruct me to avoid filth because He wants my life to be boring. He, like a loving parent, wants me to avoid destruction and to pursue him. I teach my kids not to drink shampoo (not a problem). Likewise, I do not want my son to start looking at pornography. I do not want my daughter to become obsessed with self-image or popularity. I want them to pursue that which is healthy and productive, not because I am a fun-killer, but because I want what is best for them.
Filth and wickedness, like the strawberry shampoo, promise pleasure but deliver destruction. When I pursue my flesh nature, I produce death in my own mind, I hurt those around me, and worst of all, I damage my relationship with God. I cannot pursue God while using drugs, looking at pornography, lashing out in anger, swelling with pride or obsessing with self. All I can produce is death when I pursue filth and wickedness.
So, I need to put away that which destroys and I need to fill myself with that which produces life. I do this not so I can impress people with my sterile behavior. The blinding pride of legalism is as destructive as any other poison. I fill my mind with God’s word because that is how He grows his life in me. I do not ever want to go back to the destruction, so today I need to consume that which produces life instead of death. I need to pursue God instead of self.