Have you ever noticed that the book of James can be annoying?
Take, for instance, a few weeks ago. Jamie and I were extremely tired. We’d been traveling every weekend and working against several deadlines during the week. Burning the candle at both ends had utterly worn us out.
Then Jamie hurt his foot and could barely walk. While I wish I could say I was the sweetest, kindest nurse anyone could ask for, that isn’t true. I was still tired. Although I did my best to help, my exhaustion came through.
I have to confess that I was irritable at the end of a long day of work, helping Jamie and trying to manage a household. I could feel anger growing inside me whenever I’d walk past my Dad watching baseball, golf, or Duck Dynasty. Inside I’d be saying, “Why can’t you see what’s going on and help out around the house? Don’t you see everything that needs to be done? Can’t you see Jamie’s hurt, and I’m exhausted?” Day after day, the anger built until finally, one day, I broke down and asked him to do a particular job that, in my mind, couldn’t wait.
He did not see the urgency.
One day, two days, three days, four days passed, and the job still wasn’t done.
Okay, now I was angry.
On the fifth day, I got tired of waiting and did it myself with a nasty attitude.
The entire time I was doing it, I went over what I would say when he got home and asked why I didn’t wait.
Like a loaded machine gun, I was ready and waiting to give him a piece of my mind and unload all my anger and frustration in his direction. Going over and over it in my mind, I was ready and waiting to start a war even though I could hear the Holy Spirit quietly saying, “Don’t start that war. Don’t go there.”
Anyway, after the job was completed, I decided to do my personal Bible study. (Doesn’t that sound spiritual? Great woman of God!! I sat down to study the Bible while planning to start a fight!!)
Only the Holy Spirit had some plans of His own, and as I opened my Bible to the book of James, I immediately felt convicted.
“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” (James 1:19-20)
“Okay, I heard You. Please help me control my anger and not explode all over the place and create a war in my home. But can’t I say a little something???”
Then I read a little further.
“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.” (James 1:21-25)
This time I had to laugh as I read the study notes at the bottom of my Bible that reminded me that it wasn’t enough just to feel the Holy Spirit’s conviction about my attitude and anger. I actually had to obey.
Then, like a cherry on top of a sundae, I read the final verse.
“Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.” (James 1:26)
Okay, I’ve got it!!! I’m not a woman of God just because I have a reverend in front of my name or I take time to read and study the Bible. Being a woman of God means allowing the Holy Spirit to use God’s Word to convict me of my sin and sinful attitudes, repenting, and changing my ways to God’s ways. It means I obey God’s Words in my everyday life.
That day, the book of James cut like a knife into my heart and convicted me of sin.
It also helped me obey the direction the Holy Spirit gave me: Calm your anger, check your tongue, and don’t start a war.
Because it’s not just enough to hear God’s Word (as the book of James pointed out), I obeyed and put it into practice.
So was it annoying? A little.
Was it funny? Yeah, that too.
But ultimately, God’s Word did exactly what it was supposed to do that day.
It convicted me of sin.
It showed me God’s way. It challenged me to make a change and wholeheartedly follow Jesus.
“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)
This verse reminds us that God’s Word is more than just a book to sit on a shelf. It is practical, applicable, and meant to make a difference in our lives.
Like a sword, the Holy Spirit uses God’s Word to cut through the garbage and noise of our excuses, sinful desire, and wrong motives and say, “Stop the nonsense: this is God’s way—choose to obey it.”
That’s what it did for me a few weeks ago.
The Holy Spirit wants to do the same thing in the life of every believer as we read God’s Word and apply it to our lives.
The question is: Will you let Him stick His two cents into your business?
Will you let the Word of God step on your toes to make you more like Jesus?
Adessa Holden is an ordained minister with the Assemblies of God specializing in Women's Ministry. Together with her brother, Jamie, they manage 4One Ministries and travel the East Coast speaking, holding conferences, and producing Men's and Women's resources that provide practical Biblical teaching for everyday life.
When asked about herself, she'll tell you "I'm a women's minister, a sister, and a daughter. I love to laugh and spend time with people. My favorite things are chocolate, the ocean, sandals and white capris, anything purple, summertime and riding in the car listening to music. It is my absolute honor and privilege to serve Jesus and women through this ministry."