Community’s advance and progress and are formed when those communities put away things that destroy and work against community. If quick-to-listen and slow-to-speak are two major characteristics of community, then James 1:21 describes the things that need eradication:
19 My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. 21 Therefore,
get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly
accept the word planted in you, which can save you.
It begins with renunciation, and the famous image of St Francis renouncing his wealth is a graphic image of the moral expectation of James — who is very much like his brother on this one.
James exhorts his readers to drop two things, and both of these are in the most general of terms. One would think they are directly connected to 1:19-20 but we would also have to think of everything that James considers sinful — like neglect of the poor and bad interpersonal relations and oppression of others… anyway, here are the two expressions:
1. Renounce moral filth.
2. Renounce abundant evil. (Or evil that is prevalent.)
To get to the core idea: James wants the community, if it is to be marked by love (1:26-27; 2:1-4, 8-10) and peace (3:13-18), then it must become holy and righteous and good and just.