Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word,.... James 1:21
The words “lay apart” in the verse above are taken from the Greek word apothimi—a compound of apo, meaning away and thimi, meaning to place or lay something down. It gives us a picture of someone who is laying something down and at the same time he is pushing it far away from himself.
In New Testament times, apothimi was frequently used to describe someone taking off his dirty clothes at the end of the day. James uses this illustration to explain how we must deal with wrong attitudes and actions in our lives.
Just as we wouldn’t go to bed in stinky dirty clothes, neither should we go to bed holding wrong attitudes. We must deal with them like filthy clothes. We have to clean up our bad attitudes.
It is important to realize that dirty clothes don’t fall off your body by accident! To get them off, you have to push the buttons through the button holes, unzip the zipper, and slip the clothes off your arms and legs one piece at a time. Dirty clothes don’t automatically come off just because you realize they are dirty. They only come off if you do something to remove them.
When James says to “lay apart” all filthiness from our lives, he is telling us to first acknowledge what is wrong with our actions and attitudes, and then to take appropriate measures to remove those things from our lives.
[Note: For more info on the word "naughtiness," see post on "naughty" figs on Feb. 4, 2009]