19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;
20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. - James 1:19-20
I just love these two verses - they are a treasure in my heart because of the way they have transformed me. In fact, these two verses are probably the most repeated verses in my head. Every morning we have a moment of silence at school before our pledge, these are the words I say. I want to be a person who listens well - to my students, to my colleagues, to my students’ parents, and I have not always done that well. I have always had such a tendency to jump to conclusions, make assumptions, judge others, problem-solve, or even attack before the other person gets their full thoughts out. I have had to work so hard at learning to really listen to people, to let them share their thoughts fully, without any judgment before I open my mouth. I still have so far to go - it’s still my tendency, especially when I have my own personal agenda, but He has grown me so much in this area because of the way I’ve stored these two little verses in my heart.
Taken out of context, these two little verses can be quite powerful. So many of us would benefit from listening more than speaking - that alone would save us so much anger. But, when you read these two verses in context, you find that James is not talking about our personal interactions with others. I just love the way God’s Word is living and active here - these verses have had such a powerful impact on my life on their own, yet they have a much deeper meaning when read in context.
James just finished telling us that God brought us forth by the word of truth, and since we know the word of truth is Jesus, we know he is referring to our salvation. We continue in that line of thinking as we read these verses under the heading, Hearing and Doing the Word. When you read these verses under the context of how we read and do the Word, James is actually referring to how we receive the Word in our hearts.
Similar to the parable of the sower, we know that not every hears and receives the Word in the same way. Some hear the Word, but the soil of the heart is rocky so it doesn’t take root, some have so many weeds growing in their heart that they overtake the Word, but some have rich, fertile soil in their hearts and the Word grows beautifully.
James is telling us we must be quick to hear the Word of God - that’s where we should go quickly when we are struggling in our trials. Being quick to hear is the first mark of fertile soil - we are eager to hear His Word and we desire the change it brings to our hearts. As we learn about His Word, we should be slow to speak. Often, new Christians want to boast of their knowledge in Christ, but we must first learn His Word or we will lead others astray in our teaching. This is like the shallow, rocky soil. The Word doesn’t have a chance to take root because we don’t spend the quiet time with Him learning His Word. Finally, we must be slow to anger when the Bible rubs up against a part of our heart that isn’t yet submitted to Him. Some respond in anger toward His Word, and it grows like a weed around the Word, choking the life right out of its power.
We must be quick to hear His Word, slow to speak until we fully understand His Word, and we should never grow angry at the Word of God, but rather seek to understand what we still need to surrender.
Press on ~ you are loved 💗
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