18th January 2024
"In this passage, James was writing to warn believers against self-deception. "
"Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry."
James 1:19 (NIV)
He gives them (and us) some practical, good advice on our conduct, in particular the way we speak, the way we hear, and the way we get angry.
First, James encourages us to be quick to hear.
Too often in a conversation, we are just waiting for the other person to finish speaking so that we can jump in with our point of view or words of wisdom.
In the same way, we can read the Word of God but not really hear what the Lord is saying.
James is encouraging us to pay careful heed to the Word of God, to listen intently, inwardly digest, and meditate on the Word of God: "For faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God."
Next, James exhorts us to be slow to speak.
Many times in life, we discover the folly of opening our mouth and responding in careless haste to the words and actions of others, and too often we react in annoyance or anger only to discover that we had misunderstood the facts of the matter, causing us to regret that we spoke so quickly and reacted so hastily.
There are many Scriptures that warn of the poison that can fall from the tongue and the damage that unguarded words or fiery tempers can produce, which can so often spark a fire that harms so many people.
Other Scriptures advise us to guard our lips in what we say and our reactions in all we do, in order to diffuse a situation and not be a cause of a flare up: "Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips."
Having been exhorted to be quick to hear and slow to speak, James ends this verse with the exhortation to be slow to anger.
Being angry is not, in itself, a sin.
Indeed, God is angry at sin and Paul tells us it is possible to be angry and not sin:
"Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity."
Proverbs gives us more insights on the sin of being led by our anger, leading to fits of rage, uncontrolled lashing out physically or verbally, and can lead to bitterness and depression:
"A quick-tempered man acts foolishly, And a man of evil devices is hated."
"A fool always loses his temper, But a wise man holds it back."
And James goes on to say: "For the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God."
Let us take to heart James' words, and be wise men or women, who are quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger, particularly in the things of the Lord.
May we be those who really hear the Word of the Lord, meditating on the words of wisdom that come from Scripture.
And may our response to God's voice be seasoned with salt and honouring to our Heavenly Father.
Loving Heavenly Father,
thank You for Your Word and the wise instructions it contains.
I know that having a quick temper and easily becoming angry does not benefit me
or those around me and does not glorify You.
Help me to put into practice the wise words of Psalm 15:
"A gentle answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word, stirs up anger."
Help me to be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger.
In Jesus' name,
We believe that all "Scripture is given by inspiration of God,"
by which we understand the whole Bible is inspired in the sense that holy men of God "were moved by the Holy Spirit" to write the very words of Scripture.
We believe that this divine inspiration extends equally and fully to all parts of the writings - historical, poetical, doctrinal, and prophetical - as appeared in the original manuscripts.
We believe that the whole Bible in the originals is therefore without error.
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