Pure Heart

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If you’ve ever been to a third world country, you might observe locals carrying large jugs of water; water that they’ve gathered from a stream, or a source of natural fresh water. But what you might not realize, is that even though the water is fresh, it might not be pure. There are almost certainly pollutants and other undesirable within the water, even though it is drinkable. In America, we filter and purify our water to rid it of such pollutants. But do we do the same with our hearts? Do we filter out what is impure and allow the Spirit to continually purify us? In James chapter 1, verse 27, it says: 

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

I have become quite familiar with the first part of that verse; “to look after the orphans and widows in their distress”. But James tells us that we are also to keep ourselves from being polluted by the world. How polluted have you become? How much of the world’s sinful impurities have you allowed in your heart? Whatever the amount, I encourage you to allow the Holy Spirit to purify your heart; to purge the evil that has crept in from the world. Allow him to cleanse you and ask him to help you in your efforts to keep yourself from being polluted by the world. Like washing our clothes is continually needed to keep them clean, so is the washing, or cleansing, of our hearts.


James tells us that we are to keep ourselves from being polluted by the world. This is a difficult task. It is difficult because we live in the world, and the world can be enticing. But we have the Holy Spirit, we have the word of God and we have other believers who can hold us accountable and help us in our effort to avoid the pollutants of the world. We may still fall and allow ourselves to be tainted, but when we use the safeguards that God has given us, we will see the pollutants of the world for what they are. And in doing so, we can avoid them. So I encourage you to do what James says, and to do everything you can to keep yourself from being polluted by the world.

No Discrimination


Do you harbor any form of prejudice in your heart? For example, do you look down on the homeless and view them as a stain on society? Do you harbor negative feelings toward an ethnic group, the gay community or even hate groups? Do you think of, or treat others differently, who don’t agree with your world view even though your world view may be Christian? If you do, remember that true love is all inclusive. We need to learn how to love every soul even if, at the moment, that soul may be opposed to our world view or live contrary to our way of life. We need to really love our neighbor as we love ourselves no matter who they are. We need to treat everyone as Jesus would treat them. James chapter 2, verses 8 and 9 tells us: 

“If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers.”

You may have heard it said regarding sinners and unbelievers that we should “love the person, but hate the sin.” Though that may be true, I believe that many Christians find it difficult to separate the two. The Bible tells us that our battle isn’t against flesh and blood, but against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Every person was created by God, and every person has a soul; a soul that God wants to save. The Bible reminds us that it isn’t God’s desire that any should perish. Any of us. We are all people, loved by God so much that he died for us… all of us. John 3:16 says, “for God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” In light of these truths we need to evaluate what it truly means to love the person, but hate the sin. For all people we should never discriminate, we should not show favoritism because as James says, when we do, “we sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers.”


James says that, “if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers.” We need to truly love our neighbors as we love ourselves because remember, without Jesus, we could’ve been one of the people we currently abhor. We could’ve been that which we revile the most. We could’ve been the worst of sinners, misguided, and maybe even one who preys on the innocent. But as far as our walk with the Lord is concerned, we are not to discriminate. If God loves the world, we should too. I pray that we all learn how to truly love the person, while at the same time hating the sin; realizing that these are two separate entities. Our job is to show the love of Christ while allowing the Holy Spirit to help us in that effort.

Good Wisdom


James explains that there are two kinds of wisdom that we can pursue. One is of the devil and the other is from heaven. It says in James 3 verses 13 through 17:

“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.”

James explains that wisdom is good only if it is from heaven. The basic difference between good and evil wisdom is that one is selfish and the other is selfless. This pattern is strewn throughout the Bible, and it is re-enforced once again in this portion of scripture. Our sinful nature pursues selfish ambition and envies what we don’t have. But Godly wisdom focuses itself on the needs of others in a way that is humble and pure. You might have realized that these are fruits of the spirit, and you may be wondering what they have to do with wisdom. Well, Proverbs reminds us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. When we understand how to operate using the fruits of the spirit as God instructs, we are wise because we do so in obedience to the Lord.


James tells us that there are two kinds of wisdom; selfish wisdom that comes from the devil and selfless wisdom that comes from heaven. I encourage you to pursue and seek the latter. It plays itself out by being pure, peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. When we pursue these attributes, we are being wise because by aligning ourselves with the Holy Spirit, we will ultimately reap what is good.

Come Near

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For me, James is one of the most challenging books in the Bible. He doesn’t mince words when calling us out about our walk with God and our struggle with our sin nature. He calls it like it is, which can be very hard to hear and very convicting. But often times, conviction is exactly what we need. In James chapter 4, verses 8 through 10 the Bible says:

“Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”

This portion of scripture is clearly a message of repentance. James challenges us to make our lives right before God; to wash our hands and purify our hearts. He’s basically telling us to get serious about our walk, to repent of our sin and to turn back to Christ. He tells us to grieve, mourn and wail because of our disobedience, which indicates true repentance. Then he continues by telling us to humble ourselves before the Lord and he will lift us up. I believe the most difficult time to pray is right after we’ve sinned. At least that is true for me. I feel so ashamed and unworthy of God that I find it difficult to understand why he would hear and forgive me. But that is exactly the time we need to be on our knees before him, when we are broken and contrite. James tells us that we are to humble ourselves before the Lord and he will ultimately lift us back up.


Repenting before the Lord can be difficult. No one wants to feel guilty and ashamed. No one likes to feel as if they’ve done something wrong that requires forgiveness. But we are sinners, and to walk with a Holy God means that we need to wash our hands and purify our hearts when we fall. There is no other way. Your sins won’t be forgiven without asking for it. And the act of asking doesn’t really matter if we’re not ready to truly repent. So, I encourage you, if you are far from God, or if you’re caught up in sin, to repent and do what James suggests. Wash your hands, purify your hearts, grieve, mourn and wail, humble yourself before the Lord and he will lift you up.

Save From Death


Sometimes the most important things to do in life are actually the hardest things to do. James outlines one of those important, difficult things in chapter 5 of his book in verses 19 through 20 which says:

“My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his ways will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.”

It can be really hard to extend a hand to one who has wandered from the truth. You may think that it will get slapped away, that you are risking a relationship, or that some form of conflict might occur for sticking your nose where it doesn’t belong. But James tells us that “whoever turns a sinner from the error of his ways will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins”. So, when we put our relationship at risk in an effort to bring someone back to Christ, it is a selfless act, not a judgmental one. We have everything to lose, but they will have everything to gain. If you find yourself in that place, I encourage you to dare to put your relationship at risk for the sake of that wayward person. If done with love, you can’t go wrong. Even if it doesn’t seem like you’ve made an impact, the Holy Spirit may use your efforts as a seed that could grow to conviction, leading that person back to Christ. But in all cases, before you make your move, I would encourage you to make sure you earnestly pray for the Spirit to take control of the encounter.


We are safest when we concentrate only on our walk with God, but even that can be difficult. Even so, consider how much more difficult it would be to turn a sinner from the error of his ways. It means that we might face rejection, conflict, or a host of other negative reactions. If you choose to put your relationship at risk in an effort to put this verse into practice, remember that it is only the Holy Spirit who can change a heart. Hopefully, that will take some of the pressure off of the result of your encounter. And as James says, your efforts can save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins. So yes, it is difficult, but it will be well worth it in the end.