James 1:21-The Dreaded Uncle John Sigh

Me displaying my strength of being a "Silly Uncle"
Me displaying my strength of being a “Silly Uncle”

James 1:21 Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.

As a teen I started looking for an anger release that wasn’t done in violence, or an overwhelming frustration like ὀργή in James 1:20.  After trying a few options (and finding they didn’t work) I decided on using a simple sigh.

Little did I know that sigh would become the thing that I’m most famous for (at least according to my family)

At the beginning my sigh was just a short burst of air from pent-up frustration (almost recognizable) however over the years it’s grown into what my niece calls an “Uncle John Sigh.”  It’s technically still a sigh, but has continued to grow louder, and stronger to the point where it’s pretty much a way to get attention.

The normal use of an Uncle John Sigh goes something like this

  1. I’m having a bad day and getting annoyed so I sigh a little bit (so people will notice and I can tell them about the bad day I had)
  2. Nobody notices so I give a slightly stronger sigh
  3. This continues till I give out a sigh so loud and powerful it sounds (and feels) like a train is passing through the room
  4. At this point somebody would ask “is anything wrong?” to which I of course respond “no I’m fine” and then sigh even louder

The Uncle John Sigh began as something simple, and even good because it was originally meant to be a HEALTHY response to frustration.  But once it became about attention instead of actually relieving stress the good thing basically became a “song and dance routine.  Today my family knows the Uncle John Sigh is coming when my brother gives me an especially hard time, and actually look forward to hearing it.  So any kind of air escaping my lips is met with “is that an Uncle John sigh?”

James in 1:21 warns the Christians about “superfluity of naughtiness” which is an abundance of wickedness, or a response to suffering that involves uncontrolled anger.  This makes sense to us, but James also warns them about “filthiness” or smaller sins.  The reason why is that small filthiness that most people cannot see will eventually become an abundance of wickedness.

Of course in the case of my Uncle John Sigh what began as a small form of rebellion continued to grow until it became something that obviously didn’t bring honor to God.

James point is simple

Be very careful about even the smallest way that you respond in anger or hostility towards God…because before you know it….that small thing will have grown out of control.

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