James 1:19 – This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.
Did they know? James seemed to think they did. He lists three things that he felt they knew. First, is to listen carefully. The word “quick” means “alive.” In other words, be alive and pay attention. Secondly, be slow to speak. I learned a long time ago I should try to be the last one to speak in any discussion if I want my point to stick. So listen carefully and don’t just say the first thing that comes to your mind. Thirdly, be slow to get angry. In communication, the opportunity for anger is lurking at the door. By keeping our cool, we keep the lines of communication open. Over the course of time, we are able to resolve volatile issues.
I have found that many of God’s people do not know these principles, or at least they do not practice them. Many times, we are preparing our response rather than listening carefully to what another is saying. I cannot tell you how many times, in preaching or teaching, someone heard me say something very different than what the CD revealed I actually said. This is why I have found it important to solicit questions or comments after speaking to make sure others heard me clearly. If you are not sure what someone said or meant in a statement, it is healthy to ask the person to repeat themselves or clarify what they said or meant.
Paul instructs us to “be angry, yet do not sin” (Ephesians 4:26). James tells us to be “slow” to anger. Aren’t you glad for these two Scriptures? Jesus became angry with the religious leaders of His day. Anger is an emotion that God put in us. Why? We are created in the image of God and throughout the Scripture we read of God’s anger towards sin. Anger is an emotion that can produce the right results when used correctly, but can also be devastating when out of control and done hastily. God’s anger, in most cases, was not about Him, but it was about what was happening to others as a result of sin.
Daily, commit to the Holy Spirit your hearing, your mouth, and your emotions. Lord, help me to hear more than the words spoken. Lord, help me to respond thoughtfully and allow my emotions to be kept under the control of Your Holy Spirit.