James 1:19-20 – “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; 20 for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” NKJV
I find the Bible a most incredible book for frequently we will find in a very short sentence key instructions that are guaranteed to produce victory and help us avoid many of the pitfalls of life. The tragedy is too frequently we fail to heed the instructions and this passage is a case in point.
I’ve been told all my Christians experience that God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason: He wanted us to listen twice as much as we spoke and most fail miserably in that. In fact, most are not good listeners for as they listen they are contemplating their opportunity to put in their two cents worth and fail to fully hear what is being said and that often produces misunderstanding and difficulty.
Consider what James offers as a guidance for life:
- BE SWIFT TO HEAR…
The word most assuredly means prompt and ready to hear. A Hebrew rabbinical adage is: “Talk little and work much.” We read in Ecclesiastes 5:6, “Do not let your mouth lead you to sin.” If we gear ourselves to ‘hear the conclusion of the whole matter’ before rendering a decision or comment we will find that we are following the directive of Scripture in setting a guard at our lips. HEARING is vital to communication for until we have HEARD what is being said we cannot properly respond.
- SLOW TO SPEAK…
We are taught in Scripture that we are never to vow a vow to God and fail to keep that promise therefore we should weigh our words carefully before allowing them to be released into the atmosphere. Once words are released they cannot be retrieved. Growing up we were told, ‘sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me’. That is absolutely false as we have all come to realize as we matured in life. Words can do incredible damage and that is another reason that James describes the tongue as the most destructive member of the power and compares it to a bridle in a horse’s mouth or the rudder on a ship.
- SLOW TO WRATH…
We are told to be angry but not sin and too often what we call ‘righteous indignation’ is nothing more than full blown rage and carnal anger. We may attempt to justify it but we cannot and find that the Bible gives warning to avoid people that are quick tempered for they are dangerous and destructive. They are given to vindictiveness and often seek vengeance rather than producing the fruit that Proverbs speaks of “a word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.”
If we are to be the Righteousness of God in Christ Jesus we cannot allow the fleshly anger or wrath to take charge of our lives. Rather we must seek first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness and in so doing will find that our thoughts are brought into captivity to Christ and the Holy Spirit is able to place a guard at our lips and keep our hearts. Becoming angry at sin and the destructiveness of it is not a bad thing but to succumb to carnal wrath and anger is. Therefore the directive is for us to discipline ourselves and seek the help of our Helper in learning to LISTEN, maintain our peace and rejecting the wrath of flesh. As we do we will find that we diffuse many situations in life without becoming doormats in the process. There is strength in being in control of your emotions.
God bless you as you go through this day!